Articles Posted in JP Morgan Chase

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has barred three former brokers who failed to take part in the self-regulatory authority’s probe into allegations of wrongdoing. Stephen T. Hurtak, formerly of Stifel Nicolaus & Co., was a broker for 39 years. According to FINRA, Hurtak refused to take part in the investigation into possibly unsuitable recommendations he may have made to several customers.

Unsuitable Recommendations

Brokers have a duty to make investment recommendations and strategies that are appropriate for a customer as it pertains to their investment goals, risk tolerance, and portfolios. When unsuitable recommendations lead to investment losses, this can be grounds for an investor fraud case.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will pay $30M to one whistleblower who provided information that brought about the $367M asset management settlement in a case against JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM). Federal regulators alleged that the bank didn’t tell wealth management clients about conflicts of interests that may have affected how the financial institution managed their money between 2008 and 2013. The two JPMorgan units involved were its nationally chartered bank and its securities subsidy.

JPMorgan, which is the biggest bank in the US according to assets, neglected to tell customers that it made money when it placed their money in hedge funds and mutual funds that earned the firm fees. Both high net worth customers and retail mutual fund customers were purportedly affected.

The bank was also accused of not telling investors that it’s wealth business preferenced its own proprietary products over others’ products when deciding where to invest clients ‘funds. JPMorgan was accused of violating its fiduciary duty when it failed to notify customers that more costly share classes of proprietary mutual funds were chosen for them. Although JPMorgan acknowledged its failure to properly disclose the information, the bank maintained that such omissions were not done on purpose, and it has since remedied the matter.

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According to Reuters, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) must pay FINRA and the SEC $13M in penalties each — $26M in total — because its anti-money-laundering procedures and policies were purportedly inaccurate. According to the regulators, from ’11 to ’15, these policies and procedures were “not reasonably designed” enough to account for the additional risks involved in certain services offered by some of its retail brokerage accounts.

The SEC’s cease-and-desist order states that Merrill Lynch did not do an adequate enough job of monitoring, identifying, and reporting certain suspect activity involving transaction patterns in customer accounts. Among the allegations is that when the firm provided traditional banking services, the software that was supposed to identify possibly suspect transactions did not screen for such activities.

The $26M fine comes just two months after the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK fined Merrill Lynch $45.5M for not reporting 68.5 million exchange-traded derivative transactions between ’14 and ’16. Because the firm’s wealth management division cooperated with the FCA’s probe, the original fine of $64.9M was reduced by 30%.

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Raymond James Financial to Pay Fine to FINRA Over Email Communications

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has fined Raymond James Financial Services (RJF) $2M for not maintaining supervisory systems and procedures that were “reasonably designed” enough to oversee emails. The firm settled the case but without denying or admitting to the charges. It also agreed to a risk-based retrospective review of past emails for potential violations.

FINRA examined Raymond James’ email system “during a nine-year review period.” According to the self-regulatory organization, the system had significant flaws that allowed email communications to not undergo “meaningful review.” As a result, “unreasonable risk” was created that could have allowed for “certain misconduct” to go undetected. Also, the firm did not assign enough resources or staff to the team tasked with evaluating emails that had been flagged by the system, even as the number of flagged correspondence grew in volume.

FINRA said that Raymond James “unreasonably excluded” certain personnel who worked on customer brokerage accounts from “email surveillance.” The SRO claims that the emails of 300 registered representatives who were employed in branches with their own email servers were not subject to the “lexicon” of phrases and words for detecting emails that might merit review for potentially suspect conduct.

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FINRA Orders JPMorgan Securities to Pay $1.25M
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPM) will pay $1.25M for not conducting proper background checks—or, in certain instances, conducting them but not in a timely enough manner—from 1/2009 through 5/2017 on 8,600 of its associated persons that were non-registered. According to the self-regulatory organization, this included the failure to properly fingerprint about 2,000 non-registered associated persons. The lapses kept the brokerage firm from knowing whether these individuals should be disqualified from employment.

Meantime, other non-registered associates persons who were fingerprinted were only screened for criminal convictions as they related to federal banking laws, as well as to list that was “internally created.” Still, said FINRA, four people who warranted disqualification due to a prior criminal conviction were allowed to work as non-registered associated persons.

Under federal securities laws, breakage firms must fingerprint certain associated staff even if they are employed in a non-registered manner because they could still pose a risk to customers otherwise. Fingerprinting allows for the identification of folk convicted of past crimes that may disqualify them from working for a firm in an associated role.

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In the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, preliminary settlements have been submitted in which Deutsche Bank (DB) will pay $48.5M and Bank of America (BAC) will pay $17M to resolve investor lawsuits accusing them of manipulating the agency bond market for years. A judge must still approve the settlements.

Despite settling, both banks maintain they did not engage in any wrongdoing. The lead plaintiff investors include the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of Northern California and the Iron Workers Pension Plan of Western Pennsylvania, and KBC Asset Management NV.

According to court papers and as reported by Reuters, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank are two of the 10 banks accused of rigging the $9 trillion agency bond market for supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds, also known as SSA bonds. The plaintiffs contend that from 2005 to 2015 the banks shared price information with one another, worked as a “super-desk” together, and allowed traders to coordinate strategies in the name of profit. Meantime, customers had to accept bond prices that were unfair to them.

Four Firms Are Ordered to Pay $4.75M for Market Access Rule Violations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, CBOE Holdings company Bats, the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and their affiliated Exchanges have fined four financial firms $4.75M collectively for violating the Securities Exchange Act of 1934’s Rule 15c3-5, which is also known as the Market Access Rule. The fines are: $2.5M for Deutsche Bank (DB), $800K for J.P. Morgan (JPM), $1M for Citigroup (C), and $450K for Interactive Brokers (IBKR).

The firms have given market access to quite a number clients that engage in millions of trades daily. However, according to FINRA, Bats, NASDAQ, and NYSE, when doing so, they purportedly did not comply with at least one of the Market Access Rule’s provisions when they did not put in place certain risk management controls and procedures so that orders that were “erroneous or duplicative,” or went beyond certain kinds of thresholds, could be detected or prevented. The firms are also accused of not having systems in place for properly supervising customer trading so that “potentially volatile and manipulative activity” could be avoided.

In the US, former London traders Rohan Ramchandani, Chris Ashton, and Richard Usher have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges accusing them of conspiring to manipulate prices in the foreign exchange market. Ashton previously worked at Barclays (BARC) as the bank’s global head of spot currency trading. Ramchandani used to be Citigroup’s (C) G-10 spot currency trading head. Usher served a similar role at JPMorgan & Chase (JPM).

Prosecutors are accusing them of conspiring with other traders in a Forex rigging scheme to share sensitive client information through an electronic chat room referred to as the “Cartel,” as well as via phone, in order to quash competitors.

The criminal charges are related to a global probe into currency market rigging. To date, seven banks have paid approximately $10B fines over this type of manipulation, including Citigroup, Barclays (BARC), JPMorgan, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

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Participants in JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s (JPM) $21B 401(K) plan are suing the bank. The plaintiffs, who have filed a proposed class-action securities case, claim that the firm caused employees to pay excessive fees of millions of dollars.

According to the complaint, JPMorgan and a number of committee and board members were in breach of their fiduciary duties when they purportedly kept proprietary mutual funds that came from affiliate companies and the bank in the retirement plan for several years even though these options were almost identical to less expensive funds that were not only available but also were performing better.

The plaintiffs contend that during the class period at issue—from ’10-’15—about half of the investment choices in the retirement plan consisted of proprietary funds. They are accusing JPMorgan of keeping up business deals that were lucrative for the firm with BlackRock Institutional Trust Co. , which allowed BlackRock to inundate the 401(k) plan with its funds.

The mortgage securities fraud deal arrived at between Deutsche Bank (DB) and the Department of Justice is now final. As part of the settlement, the German lender will pay a $3.1B civil penalty and $4.1B in relief to borrowers, homeowners, and others that were impacted because it purportedly misled investors about the mortgage securities it was selling before the housing market failed.

Although the agreement was announced last month, the details of the resolution have just been released to the public. This includes information that as far back as May 2006, a Deutsche Bank supervisor had cautioned one of the firm’s senior traders about one mortgage lender that had become too lax with its underwriting practices.

In a Statement of Facts that was part of the agreement, Deutsche Bank acknowledged that it was aware that it was not fully disclosing the risks involved with the loans that it was bundling and selling. Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan issued a written statement apologizing “unreservedly” for the bank’s conduct. Cryan said that Deutsche Bank now has better standards in place.

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