The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Wednesday that JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. has agreed to pay a $135 million settlement for charges related to improper handling of “pre-released” American Depository Receipts (ADR).
The SEC found that JPMorgan had improperly provided ADRs in pre-release transactions, despite neither the broker nor customers having the requisite foreign shares to support the new ADRs. The SEC further noted that:
Such practices resulted in inflating the total number of a foreign issuer’s tradeable securities, which resulted in abusive practices like inappropriate short selling and dividend arbitrage that should not have been occurring.
JPMorgan has agreed to pay the settlement without responding to the charges the SEC has brought against them. JPMorgan marked the fourth depository bank that the SEC has brought such charges or findings against.
The investigation is ongoing, as the SEC turns its focus to the brokerage firms who profited from the improper handling of ADRs.