WASHINGTON -- Chase Manhattan Bank has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle government charges that it violated securities laws.
The nation's fifth-largest bank failed to properly report the reappearance of canceled corporate bond certificates that it had paid a disposal company to destroy, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday. The regulators took joint action against the bank.
Chase neither admitted nor denied the regulators' findings. Charlotte Gilbert, a bank spokeswoman, said that to Chase's knowledge, no one had lost money because the bonds resurfaced.
Two years ago, regulators fined Citibank $750,000 for similar violations.
In Chase's case, canceled bonds from Uniroyal, Armco Steel Corp., and BP North American Finance Corp. with a face value of about $7.4 million have surfaced in American and European markets since 1991. As the transfer agent for those canceled bonds, Chase was responsible for their destruction, the SEC said.
Chase's Ms. Gilbert said, "We believe that the certificates reappeared in the marketplace as a result of a failure by our outside vendors to destroy the canceled certificates." She said the bank notified the SEC, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Securities Information Center after the bonds appeared.
But the SEC said Chase did not notify authorities quickly enough.
The regulators said Chase's "practices, policies, and procedures with regard to the cancellation and destruction of certificates were inadequate," and that its failure to file timely reports violated securities laws.
For the most part, banks must notify authorities within a day when they learn of such events, but Chase waited roughly a month after the first canceled bonds surfaced to notify authorities, according to documents on the Chase case.
Chase said it has corrected the problems that led to the fines. "We reviewed and revised our procedures for the cancellation, storage, and destruction of canceled certificates in consultation with the government and are now confident that our current procedures satisfy -- if not exceed -- regulatory requirements," said Ms. Gilbert.
Since 1989, Chase has been shredding such certificates inhouse, Ms. Gilbert said. So far, Chase knows of 300 canceled certificates dating from 1973 to 1977 that have resurfaced.