Bloomberg News

TOKYO - Merrill Lynch & Co., the world''s biggest brokerage, was ordered to suspend its Tokyo swap trading operations for five days.

Merrill is, the sixth foreign brokerage to be penalized since May for breaking Japanese securities law.

The Financial Supervisory Agency, which regulates the securities industry, said Merrill was found to have completed swap trades without first notifying authorities. The firm is being forced to shutter that business from July 10 to July 14 as a result.

"We take the regulators' findings seriously and are determined to immediately rectify all shortcomings identified," said John Sievwright, chief executive of Merrill Lynch Japan. "``We are also taking immediate action to review our internal control structure in order to further strengthen our operations in Japan."

The announcement follows the latest in a series of audits that found violations resulting in the suspensions of parts of 11 foreign securities firms, including Merrill Lynch, for violating the law.

Japanese authorities have been systematically auditing brokerages since last year, and have vowed to inspect all securities firms by next year.

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