SEC charges Utah brokerage firm with failing to comply with anti-money laundering laws

Linus Unah – Fourth Estate Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged a Salt Lake City-based brokerage firm Alpine Securities Corp with violating anti-money laundering laws.

The SEC said in a news release Monday that the Alpine Securities allegedly cleared transactions for microcap stocks that were used in schemes to harm investors.

Alpine acts as a clearing firm for many microcap over-the-counter stock transactions. Alpine has cleared thousands of deposits of microcap securities since 2011.

Broker-dealers are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports or SARs that describe suspicious transactions that take place through their firms, according to the SEC.

The SEC’s complaint alleged that Alpine Securities failed to file SARs for stock transactions that it flagged as suspicious.

And even when it did, the firm allegedly omitted information that showed that it was aware of suspicious activity in its SAR filings.

The complaint further noted that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network states that “[e]xplaining why the transaction is suspicious is critical” while filing SARs.

“As alleged in our complaint, by failing to file SARs, Alpine Securities deprived regulators and law enforcement of critically important information often related to trades in microcap securities used to investigate potentially serious misconduct,” said Julie Lutz, director of the SEC’s Denver office.

The SEC’s complaint charges Alpine Securities with thousands of federal securities violations.

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