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Life Health > Life Insurance

SEC Fines Company Over Rep Problems

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says a large insurance company did a poor job of screening and supervising a registered representative.

The SEC has imposed a $250,000 fine in connection with the matter on Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, and ordered Metropolitan Life to do a better job of keeping customer records.

Metropolitan Life has neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings.

Metropolitan Life cooperated with officials looking into the matter, a company representative says.

“We’re pleased to put this matter behind us,” the representative says.

A south Florida office of Metropolitan Life hired a registered rep in February 2000 even though the company found that the rep had misrepresented his education on his resume and a previous employer was investigating the rep for misappropriating customer funds, SEC officials say.

Metropolitan Life hired the rep after the previous employer cleared the rep of misappropriating funds but cited the rep for violations of customer file and fund submission rules, officials say.

Later, the Metropolitan Life compliance department found the rep had bounced more than $100,000 in checks, and the annuity department questioned the suitability of some of the rep’s annuity sales, officials say.

The rep ended up persuading the Fulton County, Ga., sheriff’s office to invest about $5.2 million in a variable annuity, even though the investment violated state law, and he also persuaded the department to invest $2 million in a non-Metropolitan Life bond fund that may not have existed, officials say.

Instead of putting the $2 million in a bond fund, the rep took some of the cash for himself and lent the rest to speculative business ventures that ultimately failed, officials say.

In March 2004, when the Fulton County sheriff’s office told Metropolitan Life about the problem VA sale, Metropolitan Life returned the surrender value, minus withdrawal charges and fees, and Metropolitan Life returned the withdrawal charges and fees in April 2004, officials say.

In September 2005, Metropolitan Life paid the Fulton County sheriff’s office $1.5 million to compensate it for the performance of the non-Metropolitan Life investment, officials say.

The SEC says Metropolitan Life should have done a better job of supervising the rep and keeping records about the Fulton County sheriff’s office transaction.


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