Four brokers have been charged today by the Securities & Exchange Commission with illegally overcharging customers $18.7 million by using hidden markups and markdowns and secretly keeping portions of profitable customer trades.

Charged in the SEC's complaint are Marek Leszczynski, 43, of Coral Gables, Fla.; Benjamin Chouchane, 37, of New York City, Gregory Reyftmann, 38, current address unknown; and Henry A. Condron, 33, of Yorktown Heights, N.Y. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Leszczynski and Chouchane. Condron has pled guilty to criminal charges.

According to the SEC complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, the brokers were employed at an interdealer broker firm. Interdealer brokers typically operate only as agents and execute large volumes of securities trades on behalf of customers for low commissions. The cash desk where these brokers worked executed trades in U.S. and Canadian stocks, and customers were primarily large foreign institutions and foreign banks.

The SEC claims that the scheme enriched the firm and the brokers personally, with the four brokers received substantial performance bonuses totaling more than $15.6 million.

-Jim McConville