Hong Kong regulator suspends ex-BTIG employee over WhatsApp messaging

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) today announced that it has suspended Fabiano Hugues Joseph Mascolo, a former employee of BTIG Hong Kong Limited, for three months over breaches of the firm’s internal policies and violations of the Code of Conduct.

The suspension is valid from December 21, 2015 to March 20, 2016.

Mr Mascolo, who was licensed as a representative under the Securities and Futures Ordinance to carry on Type 1 (dealing in securities) regulated activities, was found to have received order instructions from a client via WhatsApp messaging on his mobile phone. In doing so, Mr Mascolo violated BTIG’s internal control policy. The firm’s written electronic communications policy prohibits employees from using text-messaging on mobile phones that are not supported by its IT department and if the intended purpose is related to its Hong Kong business activities.

The SFC also found that from April 2010 to September 2013, Mr Mascolo allowed a friend to use his personal securities account at a brokerage firm to conduct personal trades without obtaining prior written consent from his friend’s then employers.

Mr Mascolo’s actions were in breach of the Code of Conduct, as they made it difficult for his employer to adequately monitor his trading activities and to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. His conduct also made it impossible for his friend’s employers to identify and effectively monitor his friend’s personal trading activities to ensure there were no conflicts of interests or other malpractices stemming from his personal trading.

The regulator refers to Paragraph 12.2(c) of the Code of Conduct for Persons Licensed by or Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission, which requires that a licensed or registered person should not knowingly deal in securities or futures contracts for another licensed or registered person’s employee unless it has received written consent from that licensed or registered person.

You can view the official announcement about SFC’s decision by clicking here.

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