Top Wall Street banks, including several Wells Fargo companies, will pay a combined $549 million in fines after admitting that their employees, “including those at senior levels”, often communicated through various messaging platforms on their personal devices, including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal, about the business of their employers.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fined the banks for being unable to produce those “off-channel” employee communications going back to at least 2019.

The SEC charged 11 firms for widespread and longstanding failures by the firms and their employees to maintain and preserve electronic communications.

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They acknowledged that their conduct violated record-keeping provisions of the federal securities laws and agreed to pay combined penalties of $289 million.

“While some broker-dealers and investment advisers have heeded this message, self-reported violations, or improved internal policies and procedures, today’s actions remind us that many still have not,” Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

“Recordkeeping failures such as those here undermine our ability to exercise effective regulatory oversight, often at the expense of investors,” added Sanjay Wadhwa, Deputy Director of Enforcement.

In addition to the significant financial penalties, each of the firms was ordered to cease and desist from future violations of the relevant recordkeeping provisions and was censured.

The US CFTC also fined top Wall Street banks to the tune of $260 million for similar reasons.

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