Morgan Stanley Fined $2.65M for NASD Violations

Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley (MWD) was fined $2.65 million Thursday by the National Association of Securities Dealers (search) for selling shares in an initial public stock offering it had managed while the shares were still under a "lock-up" period.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) was fined $150,000 and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) was fined $125,000 for similar violations, the NASD said in a statement. All three companies were censured and consented to the NASD's findings without admitting or denying guilt.

According to the NASD, business units of Morgan Stanley sold shares in two public offerings, Breakaway Solutions Inc. and AsiaInfo Holdings Inc., before the company was legally allowed to do so under its business agreements with those companies.

Morgan Stanley had underwritten the two offerings — meaning that the company managed the first-time sale of those shares on the open market — and had agreed not to sell its own shares, received as compensation for its work, for up to one year. Morgan Stanley earned $2.5 million from the early stock sale, the NASD said. It was the only one of the three firms fined to have turned a profit on its sale.

NASD, an independent regulator of Wall Street firms, ordered Morgan Stanley to disgorge the $2.5 million in profits, and levied a fine of $150,000 for the violation.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley had no comment.

JPMorgan Chase was fined for stock sales by Hambrecht & Quist, and officers of that firm, in four stock offerings that Hambrecht & Quist managed — Inc., Inc., Net2Phone Inc. and Liberate Technologies. An entity related to Hambrecht and officers of the firm sold their shares in those companies before the lock-up period expired.

Chase Manhattan, which merged with JPMorgan in early 2001, acquired Hambrecht & Quist in August 1999.

Goldman Sachs was fined after five individuals "related to employees" of the company sold shares in Inc., an IPO Goldman managed, during the lock-up period.

Spokesmen for JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Shares of Morgan Stanley rose 27 cents to $49.71 on the New York Stock Exchange (search), while JPMorgan shares slipped 6 cents to $35.61 and Goldman Sachs shares climbed $1.54 to $99.89.

NASD was the sole owner of the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. prior to the market's going public in mid-2002.