NEW YORK (
Trillium Brokerage Services
, a proprietary trading firm based in New York, was fined $1 million and saw several of its traders temporarily suspended from the securities industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) -- the U.S. securities industry's self-regulatory organization.
In a statement Monday, FINRA said nine traders at Trillum "created a false appearance of buy- or sell-side pressure," in various stocks, by placing orders they never intended to execute. The traders earned $575,000 from these activities, conducted over 46,000 instances.
The nine traders, as well as the director of trading and Trillium's chief compliance officer, all of whom were named in the release, consented to the sanctions, and a total of $802,500 in individual fines, without admitting or denying guilt, according to a
letter posted on FINRA's website.
The action comes shortly after numerous published reports that the
Securities and Exchange Commission
is conducting a regulatory review of so-called Wall Street "quote stuffing" practices. This practice occurs when firms place thousands of buy or sell orders on a stock in order to influence the price, only to cancel the order before execution.
Concerns that small investors battle hopelessly against expensive supercomputers, which profit from tiny and fleeting movements in stock prices, have flared up on occasion in the past year. Criminal charges brought against former
computer programmer Sergey Aleynikov in July 2009, coming in the wake of the financial crisis, brought attention to high frequency trading from regulators and members of Congress. The "flash crash" on May 6 of this year renewed those concerns, though there is still substantial debate about what caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall 600 points and then recover in just a few minutes on that date.
Written by Dan Freed in New York
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.