The Securities and Exchange Commission has decided William Tirrell, who used to lead Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s regulatory reporting department, was negligent in the firm’s violations of securities rules for which it was fined $415 million in 2016. The regulator, though, took no actions against Tirrell, who left the firm in July, other than demanding that he “cease and desist” from future transgressions, according to an order it released Friday.
In a statement shared with ThinkAdvisor, Tirrell’s attorney Steven Witzel said: “The terms of the settlement — no fine, no suspension, no penalty — speaks for itself. After four years of investigation by the SEC, Mr. Tirrell is more than ready to put this matter behind him and move on with his life.”
Tirrell, 64, had worked for the regulatory reporting group at Merrill since 1980. He was head of the group from 2004 to April 2016. (Merrill Lynch declined to comment on the matter.)
About a year ago, Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said Merrill’s $415 million fine was “by far the largest customer protection settlement in SEC history, and the severity of the misconduct is much more significant than prior cases.”
As part of the actions it took against Merrill Lynch in June 2016, regulators also filed a cease-and-desist action against Tirrell, tied to the use of client cash to conduct leveraged conversion trades — conversion trades that used listed options financed by customers through margin loans extended by Merrill Lynch.
The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleged last year that Tirrell “was ultimately responsible for determining how much money Merrill Lynch would reserve in its special account, and failed to adequately monitor the trades and provide specific information to the firm’s regulators about the substance and mechanics of the trades.”