The insurer MassMutual will pay a $4 million fine to Massachusetts securities regulators as part of a settlement involving the conduct of Keith Gill, a former employee and online trader known as “Roaring Kitty” whose relentless cheerleading for shares of GameStop was at the heart of the meme stock mania earlier this year.
The unit of MassMutual that employed Mr. Gill, who resigned in January, admitted as part of a consent order announced on Thursday that it failed to adequately supervise his and other agents’ trading and online activity. The insurer also agreed to an independent compliance review. Moreover, Mr. Gill was carrying out trades on behalf of three other people not affiliated with MassMutual without the insurer’s knowledge, the settlement said.
Mr. Gill cultivated a huge online following with over 250 hours of YouTube videos detailing his views on GameStop, a troubled video game retailer that was once a mainstay of malls but whose stock had languished in recent years. However, GameStop became a favorite of masses of day traders who loosely organized themselves on Reddit’s WallStreetBets trading message board and briefly drove the company’s share price up as much as 600 percent within days in late January.
Mr. Gill’s videos — he filmed himself sitting in a video-gaming chair wearing his trademark red headband — were informal and irreverent. But even as his online fame grew, it was virtually unknown that he was as a registered securities broker, and that until he resigned January he worked as a financial wellness education director at MassMutual, officially known as Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.
Mr. Gill would regularly update his personal GameStop position publicly, posting his trades on Reddit under the recurring rubric of “GME YOLO Update.” But the settlement with the office of William F. Galvin, the secretary of the commonwealth, said that Mr. Gill also carried out nearly 1,700 trades in the accounts of three other people. What was being traded and the identities of the people were not disclosed.