Fidelity Investments has agreed to pay an $8 million penalty for accepting over $1.6 million in gifts and entertainment paid for by outside brokers. Over three years ago, the SEC determined that the investment company allowed brokers to influence its broker selection process by swaying employees with lavish gifts and through personal relationships. Persuasive ploys included free private jet trips to Mexico, Bermuda, and Las Vegas, as well as highly coveted tickets to concerts and sporting events.
According to the SEC, the 13 employees who have been charged “failed to seek the best execution” for its clients’ mutual finds securities transactions.”
In addition to the monetary charges, compliance with the SEC settlement includes Fidelity’s agreement to cease any further violations, and to hire an independent consultant to review its policies and procedures in regarding equity trading operations, conflicts, and gifts. Fidelity did consent to the SEC’s Order, though it chose neither to admit nor deny the charges.