The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Neovest, a provider of an order and execution management system (OEMS) that facilitates electronic trading, has agreed to pay a $2.75 million penalty for its failure to register as a broker-dealer in violation of the federal securities laws. This is the SEC’s first case charging an OEMS provider for operating as an unregistered broker-dealer.
According to the SEC’s order, Neovest, a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan, operates an OEMS that allows customers to route orders for stocks and options to more than 360 customer-selected destination brokers for execution. The SEC’s order finds that prior to being acquired by J.P. Morgan, Neovest engaged in this activity through its registered broker-dealer, Neovest Trading.
Although Neovest withdrew its broker-dealer registration after it was acquired, it continued to operate the OEMS as an unregistered broker-dealer by, among other things, participating in the order-taking and order-routing process and soliciting customers and destination brokers through the firm’s website and direct outreach at industry conferences and trade shows. Neovest played a role in determining the routing options that were available to its customers by entering into agreements with the destination brokers.
According to the order, in exchange for its OEMS services, Neovest also continued to receive transaction-based compensation by having payments from destination brokers redirected to J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, a registered broker-dealer, which then transferred the proceeds to Neovest.