On November 18, 2015, the New York State Department of Financial Services announced that Barclays will pay an additional $150 million penalty for misconduct related to automated, electronic foreign exchange trading through its “Last Look” system. Barclays was also ordered to terminate its Global Head of Electronic Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities Automated Flow Trading. This action brings the overall penalty Barclays has paid to NYDFS for foreign exchange enforcement actions to $635 million. Barclays Last Look system was designed to protect Barclays against “toxic order flow” caused by another market maker’s more sophisticated electronic trading system detecting market movement some milliseconds before the Barclays’ systems. As such, Last Look imposed a hold period between its receipt of a customer order and its acceptance and execution of the same in order to allow Barclays’ systems time to properly adjust prices based on such market movement. According to the order, in certain instances Barclays used its Last Look system to automatically reject client orders that would otherwise be unprofitable for the bank due to subsequent price movements during the milliseconds-long hold period. Furthermore, Barclays failed to disclose to clients the reason that the trades were rejected.

The NYDFS press release and order are available at: http://www.dfs.ny.gov/about/press/pr1511181.htm and http://www.dfs.ny.gov/about/ea/ea151117.pdf.