Firms To Pay For Deleting - But Not Merrill

The Wall Street Journal reports that five brokerage houses have 'tentatively agreed' to each pay $1.65m for failing to keep e-mails and producing them when asked to do so by a variety of state and federal investigators.

The five firms, Deutsche, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Salomon and US Bancorp Piper Jaffray are all expected to pay up without admitting any wrongdoing.

Us regulators the Securities & Exchange Commission, the National Association of Securities Dealers and the New York Stock Exchange are thought to have initially wanted Merrill Lynch to be fined along with the rest.

Canny officials at Merrill pointed out, however, that the firm was fined $100m for its stock research practices earlier in the year and that the brokerage was condemned by the very e-mails that it handed over to investigators. Bit rich, then, to sting the firm again for not keeping e-mail history! The regulators relented and Merrill was saved further ignominy.

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