UK energy regulator Ofgem has fined Morgan Stanley £5.41 million over the use by traders of WhatsApp messages on private phones to discuss market transactions.
It is the first-ever fine issued in Great Britain under legal requirements to record and retain electronic communications relating to trading wholesale energy products.
The watchdog found that the bank had policies in place which prohibited the use of WhatsApp for trading communications - but did not take sufficient reasonable steps to ensure compliance with its own policies.
In January it emerged that Morgan Stanley had doled out million of dollars in fines to its own bankers for conducting business over WhatsApp, in breach of a regulatory crackdown on the use of the popular messaging app.
The bank has admitted the latest breaches between January 2018 and March 2020, and has agreed to conduct enhanced staff training and the strengthening of its internal systems and controls.
Cathryn Scott, regulatory director of enforcement and emerging issues at Ofgem, says: “It is unacceptable that Morgan Stanley failed to prevent electronic communications which could not be recorded or retained. It risks a significant compromise of the integrity and transparency of wholesale energy markets."
The fine, which included a 30% discount for agreeing to settle the case, is the latest in a series of crackdowns by regulators worldwide on the use of trader's private phones when discussing market transactions.
Earlier this month Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas were among the latest banks to be hit with multi-million dollar penalties by US regulators over employee use of unofficial communication tools like WhatsApp and iMessage.
Those settlements came after the SEC in September fined firms including Bank of America, Citi and Goldman Sachs a total of $1.1 billion.