It's hardly any secret that regulators are carefully examining e-mail archives to uncover wrongdoing, but the recent settlement that regulators reached with UBS Financial Services reveals just how critical the electronic paper trail has become to some investigations and exactly how costly it can be when a firm doesn't retain those records.

The broker/dealer unit of European banking giant UBS AG, UBS Financial Services, agreed on Jan. 12 to pay $49.5 million to New Jersey regulators and the New York Stock Exchange to settle charges of illegal market timing. The malfeasance, regulators say, occurred between 1999 and 2002 at the Paramus, N.J., branch of UBS Financial Services when it was UBS PaineWebber, as well as six other locations. The firm neither admitted nor denied the charges.

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