U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler, testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 15, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

U.S. regulators on Tuesday announced a combined $549 million in penalties against Wall Street firms that failed to maintain electronic records of employee communications.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges and $289 million in fines against 11 firms for “widespread and longstanding failures” to maintain records, including by allowing employees to use unsupervised side channels such as messaging apps WhatsApp and Signal, the regulator said.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission also said it fined four banks a total of $260 million for failing to maintain records required by the agency.

Wells Fargo, the fourth biggest U.S. bank by assets and a relatively small player on Wall Street, racked up the most fines, with a total of $200 million in penalties.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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