Citibank has been fined $4.5 million by the Commodity Future Trading Commission for deleting millions of audio files, including recordings, which had been subpoenaed for an on-going CFTC investigation.
Citi blames the scrubbing of files on a design flaw within its system, according to a FinExtra report. The CFTC said it received an assurance from Citi, prior to the deletion of the files, that it would preserve a number of audio files from traders for an ongoing investigation.
When the CFTC requested the files following a two-month deferment, Citi reported the recordings, totaling more than 2.77 million audio files for 982 users, had been scrubbed three weeks earlier. Citi pins the blame on a bug in the system, but senior staff were reportedly aware of the system issue six years ago.
A 2014 staff memo stated that if the system was not configured correctly, there could be a “ticking time bomb effect” that could, and ultimately did, automatically delete the audio recordings, according to the news report.
“Registrants have obligations to diligently supervise all aspects of their business related to their duties, including all systems used to comply with CFTC recordkeeping requirements, document requests, and subpoenas,” CFTC Division of Enforcement Director James McDonald told the news outlet.
“These regulations exist to promote the integrity of the marketplace. When registrants fail to meet their supervision obligations, they will be penalised.”