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U.S. watchdogs send all-caps text to Wall Street

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WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters Breakingviews) – U.S. watchdogs are having a priority chat with Wall Street. JPMorgan (JPM.N) is paying $200 million to settle charges its brokerage arm failed to maintain records of private messages sent by employees via text, WhatsApp and such. The unusually large penalty should spur financial firms to increase monitoring of personal communications, which have become harder to track with many employees working remotely.

The bank headed by Jamie Dimon admitted that employees communicated about business using personal devices from at least January 2018 to November 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. The agency slapped JPMorgan with a $125 million fine, the largest for such an infraction, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission extracted a separate settlement.

Previous penalties have been far smaller, like a $2.5 million hit for Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) a year ago. Though it totals less than 2% of JPMorgan’s hefty net income read more in the most recent quarter, the latest punishment is harder to dismiss. As Covid-19 variants disrupt returning to the office, banks will have to raise their Big Brother game. (By Gina Chon)

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Editing by Richard Beales and Sharon Lam

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