The Financial Industry and Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. $2.8 million for overcharging customers by $32 million in excessive fees related to the firm's acquisition by Bank of America. FINRA also ordered Merrill Lynch to repay the ill-gotten $32 million in remediation to affected customers.
Its customers had been eligible for lower fees due to various aspects related to their accounts, such as total assets invested with Merrill Lynch and type of investments held in the accounts. However, Merrill Lynch neglected to charge customers the lower fees because of errors with the firm's internal accounting and billing systems.
FINRA found that between 2003 and 2011, 95,000 Merrill Lynch customers were overcharged while 230,000 customers failed to receive trade confirmations for some 10.6 million trades made during that period. FINRA'S finding runs counter to many firms arbitration defense that they timely mailed confirmations.
This is not the first time Merrill Lynch has been disciplined by FINRA for failure to comply with regulations. FINRA previously fined the Merrill Lynch $450,000 for having a poor supervisory system related to structured products. Just as in that prior case, Merrll Lynch agreed to pay the fine without admitting any liability or responsibility for its actions.
If you have held or currently hold an account with Merrill Lynch or another firm you believe may be overcharging you or otherwise engaging in conduct that has proven harmful to you or your interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.