Credit Suisse First Boston
, the biggest underwriter of technology initial public offerings in the late 1990s, continues to pay the piper for its bubble-era avarice.
In a settlement with securities regulators, the Wall Street firm was fined $170,000 and ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution, stemming from its failure to properly execute orders from six customers to sell shares in MP3.com's IPO. The
National Association of Securities Dealers
found that due to the way CSFB executed the orders, "CSFB profited, and its customers were disadvantaged by $606,000."
CSFB was the lead underwriter on the music downloading service's IPO on July 21, 1999. MP3.com has been since acquired by
, which essentially has replaced it with CNet Download.com
The NASD said CSFB, which neither admitted nor denied the allegations, didn't meet its obligation to promptly comply with its customers' requests to sell shares on the day of the IPO. Regulators found that the investment bank did not move swiftly in meeting the customers' request to sell, as the price of MP3.com's shares fell back from $100 to $64.50 in a frenetic first day of trading.
This, of course, is not the first time regulators have taken CSFB to task over its role in underwriting technology IPOs.
In 2002, CSFB paid a $100 million fine to settle an investigation by the
Securities and Exchange Commission
and the NASD into allegations that CSFB dished out hot IPO shares to favored clients and hedge funds in return for higher-than-normal commissions, or "kickbacks."
Federal prosecutors also investigated the matter, but decided not to file any charges against the firm.
Prosecutors last year charged former CFSB investment banker Frank Quattrone with trying to obstruct that federal investigation. Quattrone, the most successful tech investment banker of his era, earned $120 million at the height of his power.
In October, following a four-week trial, an 11-member jury was unable to reach a verdict in the Quattrone case. The investment banker is slated to be tried again in March.