Morgan Stanley and Scottrade Inc. agreed Monday to pay $950,000 to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for failing to monitor wire transfers of customer funds to third-party accounts.
Morgan Stanley was fined $650,000, while Scottrade was fined $300,000. Both firms neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.
From October 2008 to June 2013, FINRA found that three registered reps in two different Morgan Stanley branch offices — Paramus, New Jersey and Fort Lauderdale, Florida — converted a total of $494,400 from thirteen customers by creating fraudulent wire transfer orders and branch checks from the customers’ accounts to third-party accounts.
The reps, for instance, moved funds from multiple customer accounts to their own personal bank accounts or to banks that held the representative’s mortgage.
FINRA found that Morgan Stanley failed to implement reasonable supervisory systems and procedures to review and monitor transmittals of customer funds through wire transfers from multiple customer accounts to the same third-party accounts and outside entities. The supervisory failures allowed the conversions to go undetected.
FINRA also found that Scottrade failed to establish a reasonable supervisory system to monitor for wires to third-party accounts. From October 2011 to October 2013, Scottrade failed to obtain any customer confirmations for third-party wire transfers of less than $200,000, and Scottrade failed to ensure that the appropriate personnel obtained confirmations for third-party wire transfers of between $200,000 and $500,000.
During that period, the firm processed more than 17,000 third-party wire transfers totaling more than $880 million.
“Firms must have robust supervisory systems to monitor and protect the movement of customer funds,” Brad Bennett, executive vice president and chief of enforcement, said in a statement. “Morgan Stanley and Scottrade had been alerted to significant gaps in their systems by FINRA staff, yet years went by before either firm implemented sufficient corrective measures.”
Both firms were cited for the weak supervisory systems by FINRA examination teams in 2011, but neither took necessary steps to correct the supervisory gaps.
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