The U.S. securities regulator, the SEC, has escalated its investigation into Wall Street's use of private messaging apps, collecting thousands of staff messages from major investment companies 

The SEC's investigation initially centered on the use of unapproved messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal by broker dealers 

The SEC's probe has now expanded to include investment advisers, with a focus on reviewing thousands of staff messages 

The crackdown on potential breaches of record-keeping rules has resulted in over $2 billion in fines from broker dealers 

The escalation of the investigation raises the risk for companies and their executives, as it exposes their conduct to SEC scrutiny 

The SEC has requested messages from personal devices and applications used for business discussions during the first half of 2021 

The SEC has targeted a selection of employees, including senior executives, in more than a dozen investment companies 

Some of the companies under investigation include Carlyle Group, Apollo Global Management, KKR & Co, TPG, and Blackstone, among others 

Government investigations like this are not necessarily evidence of wrongdoing and may not lead to charges 

The SEC emphasizes the importance of record-keeping rules in guarding against wrongdoing and is increasingly focusing on issues like private fund fees, conflicts of interest, and preferential treatment of investors