Societe Generale drawn by U.S. SEC into its widening messaging probe

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Feb 8 (Reuters) - Societe Generale, France's third biggest bank, has been drawn into a probe by the U.S. securities regulator on whether its staff had used unauthorized messaging platforms, according to the lender's annual report released on Wednesday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought information from SocGen's U.S. unit related to "compliance with record-keeping requirements in connection with business-related communications on messaging platforms that were not approved by the firm," the lender said in its report.

The SEC in 2021 began probing into how Wall Street banks were keeping track of employees' digital communications, Reuters reported at the time, and later the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was also scrutinizing the issue, bank disclosures showed.

The probe also impacted banking giants including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America and banks were collectively asked to pay more than $1 billion in regulatory fines for employees' use of unapproved messaging tools, including email and apps like WhatsApp.

The inquiry "follows a number of regulatory settlements in 2022 with other firms covering similar matters," SocGen's annual report said. The information related to the SEC was buried on page 209. The bank added that it is "cooperating with the investigation".

Societe Generale declined to comment further on the inquiry. (Reporting by Jaiveer Shekhawat in Bengaluru and Saeed Azhar in New York; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)