Icap's $25m settlement ends four-year investigation

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The Independent Online

Icap last night announced a $25m (£15.5m) settlement with America’s Securities & Exchange Commission to see off charges that it displayed fake trades to encourage activity by customers.

News of the settlement was released late yesterday after the UK stockmarket, on which Icap is listed, had closed.

The settlement brings a four-year investigation – that had threatened to deeply embarrass Icap – to a close.

The company was founded and is still run by Conservative Party Treasurer Michael Spencer, who holds the position of chief executive and is the biggest shareholder.

A money broker, the Icap, allows banks to trade a huge range of financial instruments anonymously with each other.

In a statement to the stock exchange the company said that two individuals on its mortgage-backed securities desk had been fired for “violation of Icap policies” in the wake of the investigation.

“It is essential that Icap and other inter-dealer brokers refrain from engaging in conduct that discredits their privileged position in the marketplace," Lorin Reisner, deputy director of the SEC's division of enforcement said.

The SEC charged that brokers on ICAP's U.S. Treasuries desks displayed thousands of fictitious flash, or "bird," trades on computer screens between December 2004 and December 2005.

Five ICAP brokers and two senior executives have also agreed to pay penalties to settle the charges. The company has long said the probe is “industry” wide although the settlement now means its involvement has ended.