The bank was fined for “for regulatory breaches and internal control failings relating to position limit failures”. The action follows an investigation conducted by the SFC into the holdings of Credit Suisse and Credit Suisse International which found open positions in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China stock options in breach of the prescribed position limit of 50,000 contracts on 27 October 2011, 14 December 2011 and 15 December 2011.
As part of the disciplinary action, Credit Suisse has agreed to engage an independent reviewer, approved by the SFC, to review its systems and controls for ensuring compliance with the regulator’s rules.
In addition to the aforementioned breaches, the SFC said it also found Credit Suisse failed to put in place effective internal controls to ensure that all open positions in stock options contracts in which extensions were granted were in compliance with the prescribed position limits.
In particular, the SFC said it found during the period in question, Credit Suisse had a system in place to ensure compliance with the rules which generated regular reports including a warning report to signal when positions reached 75% of the available limit. However, excess position limits approved by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and the expiry dates of the approved excess limits were not shown in the warning report and traders had to rely on their memories in monitoring compliance with the rules. At the relevant time, three stock options classes had previously been the subject of applications for extensions.
The three position limit breaches with respect to the ICBC Option in October and December 2011 were caused by the traders’ mistaken belief that an approved excess limit which had expired in June 2011 remained available.
The warning report was introduced in April 2011. The traders raised issues about the limitations of the warning report with Credit Suisse but no steps to rectify them were taken until after the position limit breaches in December 2011.
In deciding the penalty, the SFC said it took into account the company’s clear disciplinary record, the fact that it has now strengthened its internal controls for monitoring compliance with the prescribed position limits and its full co-operation with the SFC in the investigation.