FSA Bans Ex-Merrill Trader for Mismarking Positions

Alexis Stenfors, a former currency dealer on the short-term interest rate trading desk at BofA’s Merrill Lynch (BAC) unit in London, was banned for at least five years from holding a similar function after he deliberately mismarked the positions he traded in order to avoid showing increasing losses in his books, the Financial Services Authority said in a statement today.

Stenfors, Merrill’s former head of Scandinavian currency swaps, was banned by the FSA for misstating positions by around $100 million between mid-January and mid-February 2009 after gambling on currency fluctuations. These actions caused Merrill to make a negative adjustment of $456 million to its books and records.

“We have banned Stenfors because his misconduct was deliberate, frequent and repeated over a one month period”, said Margaret Cole, the FSA’s enforcement director, in the statement. “He was a senior and experienced trader who held a position of trust at the firm.  He betrayed the trust placed in him by the firm and demonstrated that he is not fit and proper to be approved by the FSA.”

The Irish financial regulator also fined Merrill 2.75 million euros ($3.8 million) in October over the incident, according to the FSA’s report.

Stenfors, 39, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg: “Life as a trader can be a very stressful one within, particularly in my case, where I found my working environment very unpleasant for a number of reasons. This does not excuse the mistakes that I made, which I regret deeply.”

Stenfors was fired in June 2009. He is currently studying for a doctorate in economics.

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