Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

SEC Fines Citigroup on Claims 60,000 Clients Were Overbilled

Citigroup Inc. will pay $18.3 million to settle a U.S. regulator’s claims that a subsidiary overcharged at least 60,000 advisory clients by billing them at rates higher than what they were promised. 

Citigroup Global Markets imposed about $18 million in unauthorized fees after failing to confirm the accuracy of rates entered into its computer systems, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday in a statement. The firm also misplaced contracts for 83,000 accounts opened from 1990 to 2012, the agency said.

“Without those missing advisory contracts, Citigroup could not properly validate whether the fee rates negotiated by clients when accounts were opened were the same advisory fee rates being billed to clients over the years,” the SEC said. “It is estimated that Citigroup received approximately $3.2 million in excess fees from advisory clients whose contracts were lost.”

Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a Citigroup spokeswoman, said the bank was “pleased to have this matter resolved.”

On Jan. 12, Citigroup agreed to repay 47,000 customers more than $22.5 million to resolve New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s claims over the same behavior cited by the SEC. Morgan Stanley on Jan. 13 agreed to pay a $13 million penalty to settle SEC claims that it overbilled advisory clients.