Robinhood Markets Inc. faces a civil fraud investigation over its early failure to fully disclose its practice of selling clients’ orders to high-speed trading firms, people familiar with the matter said.
The investigation is at an advanced stage and the company could have to pay a fine exceeding $10 million if it agrees to settle the Securities and Exchange Commission probe, one of the people said. A deal, however, is unlikely to be announced this month, the people said, and the two sides haven’t formally negotiated a proposed fine, the person said.
The probe is the latest headache for the upstart brokerage firm that was founded in 2013 and has developed a hugely popular app that allows individuals to trade stocks, options and cryptocurrencies without paying any commissions. While Robinhood has seen phenomenal growth this year, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm has faced setbacks such as outages that prevented customers from trading, the cancellation of its plans to expand to the U.K. and fallout from the suicide of a 20-year-old Robinhood customer who thought he had lost money from a sophisticated options trade.