SEC Settlement With Deutsche Bank for Alleged Fraudulent Bond Sales Practices Highlights Challenge for Fund Managers to Obtain Accurate Pricing

Fund managers that purchase thinly traded securities rely, in part, on the good faith of dealers in those securities. A recent SEC settlement with Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. (DBSI) and a former head trader is a reminder of the fine line between sales puffery and outright fraud, as well as of the challenge of obtaining accurate pricing information. According to the settlement order, DBSI and its head trader failed to reasonably supervise employees who made misrepresentations to customers in secondary market trading in commercial mortgage-backed securities. Among other sanctions, DBSI has agreed to reimburse a significant amount to affected customers in connection with those allegedly fraudulent sales practices. This article details the alleged misconduct, the respondents’ violations and the terms of the settlement. For other actions involving improper sales talk in bond trading, see “SEC Complaints Against Former CMBS Traders Highlight Need for Fund Managers to Verify Broker Pricing for Thinly Traded Securities” (Jun. 1, 2017); “SEC Settlement With Ex-Goldman Head RMBS Trader Highlights Risk That Puffery May Become Misrepresentation When Trading Illiquid Securities” (Sep. 8, 2016); and “Pricing Information Provided by Brokers to Hedge Fund Managers for Thinly Traded Securities May Not Be Reliable” (Sep. 17, 2015).

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