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[FRANKFURT] German financial market watchdog Bafin has imposed a 3.25 million euro (S$4.76 million) fine - the regulator's largest ever - on investment manager BlackRock for publishing faulty corporate voting rights disclosures.
"The incorrect or late disclosures were attributable to a mistaken interpretation of German disclosure rules and related to a number of German large cap issuers," Bafin said in a statement on its Internet site on Friday.
Bafin said BlackRock had accepted the fine and had itself come forward to clarify errors and introduce changes to prevent similar violations of the rules in future - positive behaviour that Bafin took into account when setting the level of the fine.
Other asset managers were likely to come forward in the coming months, seeking a clean slate from Bafin ahead of much tougher fines being imposed under revised EU disclosure transparency rules that come into force in November, said Jochen Kindermann, a lawyer at Simmons & Simmons in Frankfurt.
"The mistakes that asset managers have made are often the result of Germany's complex interpretation of the disclosure rules," Mr Kindermann said, adding that the new rules should be simpler for companies to uphold.
The incentive to clear up problems now is also driven by an obligation on Bafin to publish the names of companies that commit violations under the new rules, which the regulator has been loath to do up to now.
"The 'name and shame' concept is something completely new to Germany," Mr Kindermann said.