The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has reprimanded and fined UBS AG and UBS Securities Asia HK$9.8m and HK$1.75m (HK11.55m, $1.5m) respectively for a raft of regulatory breaches.

A number of issues concerning UBS's systems and controls were brought to the SFC's attention between September 2018 and November 2020 by self-reports from UBS or referrals of findings from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

The SFC's investigation found that between May 2004 and May 2018, UBS failed to make proper disclosure of its financial interests in some Hong Kong listed companies covered in its research reports. The failure was caused by multiple data feed logic errors in a legacy data source used by UBS for tracking its shareholding positions.

The SFC also found that UBS AG failed to:

  • Obtain valid standing authorities from 91 clients who were not qualified as professional investors and issue contract notes to them between November 2012 and February 2019 in respect of 913 securities pooled lending transactions entered into with these clients.
  • Record client order instructions received through 35 telephone lines between August 2017 and June 2019, involving over 2,000 transactions executed for more than 400 clients.
  • Follow applicable regulatory guidelines relating to the assessment of clients' derivatives knowledge between January 2018 and June 2020 by failing to obtain trading evidence from clients who declared that they had conducted five or more derivative trades in the three years before declaration; and
  • Disclose to 15 clients the "stop loss event" feature of a structured note issued by an issuer, and assure itself that the clients understood the risks associated with that feature before selling them the note between October 2017 and February 2020.

The SFC said it considered that UBS failed to act with due skill and care and put in place adequate systems and controls to ensure compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements.