Merrill Lynch agreed to pay SEC $15+ million to settle charges that employees misled customers into overpaying for securities
Merrill’s RMBS traders and salespeople “illegally profited from excessive, undisclosed commissions — called ‘markups’ — which in some cases were more than twice the amount the customers should have paid” – SEC
Merrill also failed to have compliance and surveillance procedures in place that were reasonably designed to prevent and detect the misconduct that increased the firm’s profits
The Firm "fail[ed] to appropriately consider and accurately describe the costs and benefits of variable annuity exchanges," FINRA said in a release.
Fifth Third Securities also recommended variable annuity exchanges without a reasonable basis to believe the exchanges were suitable & must pay $2 million
FINRA found that brokers and principals were inadequately trained in how to compare material features of variable annuities resulting in the firm misstating the costs and benefits of exchanges, making the exchange appear more beneficial to the customer