The CEO of controversial trading app Robinhood offered an apology Thursday amid a grilling at the hands of lawmakers. During a congressional hearing on the GameStop trading saga, Vlad Tenev expressed regret for the company's decision to temporarily halt trading on GameStop and a dozen other stocks amid a volatile market on Jan. 28. "Despite the unprecedented market conditions in January, at the end of the day, what happened is unacceptable to us," he said after House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters interrupted his opening remarks to question him, a rare move, per the Wall Street Journal. At another point, he said, "Look, I'm sorry for what happened. I apologize, and I'm not going to say that Robinhood did everything perfect and that we haven't made mistakes in the past, but what I commit to is making sure that we improve from this."
But the Guardian notes Tenev also defended the temporary curbing of trading certain stocks, insisting it was "absolutely false" to allege that Robinhood was trying to help the hedge funds that were losing money amid the buying frenzy. He said Robinhood could not meet an initial $3 billion collateral call from its clearinghouse on the morning of Jan. 28, which would have been an "enormous catastrophe" for clients whose portfolios would have been liquidated, and that after restricting trading, the bill was drastically cut to an affordable amount. "A vulnerability was clearly exposed in your business model," a congressman said. "We just can’t live in a world where my constituents could have their shares liquidated without their consent because you all aren’t able to make a capital call." Also raised at the hearing was the 2020 suicide of a 20-year-old trader who thought he owed money he likely did not; a lawmaker used his questioning time to call Robinhood's help line and playing the automated message that results. Tenev also apologized to the family for their loss, Business Insider reports. (Read more Robinhood stories.)