The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Fines MetLife Securities, Inc. $25 Million for Negligent Misrepresentations and Omissions in Connection With Variable Annuity Replacements
May 3 16
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it has fined MetLife Securities Inc. (MSI) $20 million and ordered it to pay $5 million to customers for making negligent material misrepresentations and omissions on variable annuity (VA) replacement applications for tens of thousands of customers. Each misrepresentation and omission made the replacement appear more beneficial to the customer, even though the recommended VAs were typically more expensive than customers' existing VAs. MSI's VA replacement business constituted a substantial portion of its business, generating at least $152 million in gross dealer commission for the firm over a six-year period. Replacing one VA with another involves a comparison of the complex features of each security.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Orders 12 Firms to Pay Restitution Totaling More than $4 Million and Fines Totaling More than $2.6 Million for Failing to Apply Available Sales Charge Discounts to Customers’ Purchases of Unit Investment Trusts and Related Supervisory Failures
Oct 20 15
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it has ordered 12 firms to pay restitution totaling more than $4 million and fines totaling more than $2.6 million for failing to apply available sales charge discounts to customers’ purchases of Unit Investment Trusts (UITs), and related supervisory failures. FINRA imposed sanctions against the following firms: First Allied Securities, Inc. of San Diego, CA, was ordered to pay $689,647 in restitution and fined $325,000. Fifth Third Securities, Inc. of Cincinnati, OH, was ordered to pay $663,534 in restitution and fined $300,000. Securities America, Inc. of La Vista, NE, was ordered to pay $477,686 in restitution and fined $275,000. Cetera Advisors LLC of Denver, CO, was ordered to pay $452,622 in restitution and fined $250,000. Park Avenue Securities LLC of New York, NY, was ordered to pay $443,255 in restitution and fined $300,000. Commonwealth Financial Network of Waltham, MA, was ordered to pay $357,521 in restitution and fined $225,000. MetLife Securities, Inc. of New York, NY, was ordered to pay $349,748 in restitution and fined $300,000. Comerica Securities of Detroit, MI, was ordered to pay $197,757 in restitution and fined $150,000. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC of El Segundo, CA, was ordered to pay $151,108 in restitution and fined $150,000. Ameritas Investment Corp. of Lincoln, NE, was ordered to pay $128,544 in restitution and fined $150,000. Infinex Investments, Inc. of Meridian, CT, was ordered to pay $109,627 in restitution and fined $150,000. The Huntington Investment Company of Columbus, OH, was ordered to pay $60,973 in restitution and fined $75,000. A UIT is a type of investment company that offers redeemable units of a generally fixed portfolio of securities that terminate on a specific date. UIT sponsors generally offer sales charge discounts to investors, known as "breakpoint discounts" and "rollover and exchange discounts." A breakpoint discount is a reduced sales charge based on the dollar amount of the purchase—the higher the amount the greater the discount. Breakpoints generally function as a sliding reduction in the sales charge percentage available for purchases, usually beginning at $25,000 or $50,000 (or the corresponding number of units). A rollover or exchange discount is a reduced sales charge that is offered to investors who use the termination or redemption proceeds from one UIT to purchase another UIT. In March 2004, FINRA issued a Regulatory Notice to firms titled, Unit Investment Trust Sales, to remind broker-dealers that they should develop and implement procedures to ensure customers receive appropriate sales charge discounts for UITs. In concluding these settlements, the firms neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.