The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) took disciplinary action in September against Merrill Lynch, LPL Financial, National Financial Services and Van Kampen Funds.
FINRA censured and fined the four financial firms for various violations, as well as ordering them to perform a number of corrective actions. None of the firms admitted or denied wrongdoing.
Merrill Lynch was censured and fined $400,000 on findings that it failed to enforce its anti-money laundering rules by accepting third-party checks for deposit into a customer’s account that, contrary to the procedures, did not identify that customer by name.
As a result, a customer who was a registered representative at another member firm was able to move more than $9 million of misappropriated funds through his Merrill Lynch cash management brokerage account.
FINRA also found that Merrill did not have internal compliance controls in place to ensure compliance with its deposit acceptance procedures regarding non-personal checks, or an adequate system to monitor deposit activity in accounts such as the registered representative’s that lacked securities activity and displayed indications of misconduct.