SEC says Morgan Stanley agrees to pay $5 million for short sale lapses

Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) $5 million for lapses in its prime brokerage swaps business that caused the bank to break rules governing short sales, the agency said on Wednesday

The firm did not admit or deny the regulator’s charges, but has consented to a cease-and-desist order, which imposes a censure in addition to the penalty, the SEC said.

According to the SEC’s order, the structure of Morgan Stanley’s prime brokerage swaps business led it to breach rules governing the sale of short positions – positions which stand to gain if shares prices fall. The bank improperly marked short sale hedges as so-called “long” bets on shares going up, in violation of the rules, the SEC said.

A spokesman for the bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.