Nomura Terminates Mortgage-Bond Traders Amid Market Probes

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Nomura Holdings Inc. terminated two New York-based mortgage-bond traders for cause in connection with investigations of the market, according to regulatory records.

The employees, Michael Gramins and Tyler Peters, were dismissed by the Japanese bank effective May 1 amid probes being conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the special inspector general for the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Connecticut, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records.

“These inquiries continue to be ongoing and are examining trading in mortgage-backed securities and related communications with counterparties,” the disclosures state. The notice dates listed for the investigations are in 2013.

Jonathan Hodgkinson, a spokesman for Nomura, declined to comment, as did Erin Stattel of the SEC. Peters didn’t return a message left on his mobile phone. Newsletter Asset-Backed Alert reported the Finra disclosures on the traders of residential mortgage-backed securities earlier Friday.

“These days, hard work and success draws government scrutiny,” Marc Mukasey, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP who represents Gramins, said in an e-mail. “In this instance, the government is examining trading practices at several banks involved in the RMBS market. Unfortunately, the government has focused on perfectly legitimate business conduct.”

On Leave

Trading in mortgage bonds and other securitized debt came under heightened scrutiny after former Jefferies Group bond trader Jesse Litvak was accused of criminal securities fraud for lying to clients. One of three judges hearing Litvak’s appeal of his 2014 conviction said in May that he may have done nothing worse than what a homeowner does when selling a house.

Gramins and Peters were placed on leave in November along with colleague Ross Shapiro, a person with knowledge of the decision said at the time. Shapiro’s most recent Finra records didn’t list any investigations and showed him still at Nomura. A message left at a telephone number for an individual with Shapiro’s name didn’t return a message.

Traders at banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Barclays Plc have been put on leave or dismissed over the past two years amid investigations into the market, according to people with knowledge of those moves and Finra records.

Matthew Katke, a former Nomura trader of collateralized loan obligations, pleaded guilty in March to a fraud scheme in relation his activities while previously at RBS. Katke, who agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, can withdraw his plea if Litvak wins his appeal.

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