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Syndicate Manager Selling Short for Own Account to Detriment of Syndicate Account

The Board has received an inquiry concerning a situation in which a municipal securities dealer that is acting as a syndicate manager sells bonds "short" for its own account to the detriment of the syndicate account. In particular, the Board has been made aware of allegations that certain syndicate managers, with knowledge that the syndicate account on a particular new issue of securities is not successful, have sold securities of the new issue "short" for their own accounts and then required syndicate members to take their allotments of unsold bonds. The syndicate managers allegedly have subsequently covered their short positions when the syndicate members attempt to sell their allotments at the lower market price.

Rule G-17, the Board’s fair dealing rule, provides:

In the conduct of its municipal securities business, each broker, dealer, and municipal securities dealer shall deal fairly with all persons and shall not engage in any deceptive, dishonest, or unfair practice.

Syndicate managers act in a fiduciary capacity in relation to syndicate accounts. Therefore they may not use proprietary information about the account obtained solely as a result of acting as manager to their personal advantage over the syndicate’s best interests. The Board is of the view that a syndicate manager that uses information on the status of the syndicate account which is not available to syndicate members to its own benefit and to the detriment of the syndicate account (e.g., by effecting "short sale" transactions for its own account against the interests of other syndicate members) appears to be acting in violation of the fair dealing provisions of rule G-17.