Norway Crime Unit Imposes Short Selling Fine on Four Firms

Four banks were fined for violating Norway’s ban on uncovered short selling last year, the country’s economic crime prosecutor said.

The banks were fined 400,000 kroner ($68,053) each for providing and performing uncovered short selling in Reservoir Exploration Technology ASA in April last year, the Oslo-based National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime said today in a statement. The fines were accepted.

The financial regulator this year reported four banks, including Nordea Bank AB’s local unit, for violating the country’s ban. The Financial Supervisory Authority also reported Fondsfinans ASA, First Securities ASA and Svenska Handelsbanken AB to the police for an investigation into the violation.

The regulator uncovered the trades in connection with a share sale by Reservoir Exploration in March and April last year. The watchdog found that many investors had started selling the shares before they had been delivered and registered.

Fondsfinans accepted the fine and regretted the incident, while noting that the sale happened after the shares were registered and delivered on time, according to a statement by Fondsfinans’ Chief Executive Officer Nils Erling Oedegaard.

“We have accepted that our handling can be characterized as a negligent violation, and has therefore adopted the fine,” Tor Arne Olsen, a spokesman for First Securities AS said via e-mail today.

Lars Saethre, a spokesman for Handelsbanken, said the bank has admitted “some mistakes” and has accepted the fine. “Given the result of the process and the size of the fine, we see no reason to take this any further,” according to Nordea spokesman Rune Kibsgaard Sjoehelle.