Merrill Lynch sanctioned $7 million for handling of customer accounts

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which maintains a Boca Raton-based helpline for investors, said Wednesday it has fined Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. $6.25 million and the firm will pay approximately $780,000 in restitution for what regulators said was inadequate supervision of certain trading practices.

moneystackThe sanctions are related to oversight of accounts involving “leverage” or borrowing and high concentrations in Puerto Rican securities that led to losses. The firm, which became part of the Bank of America in 2009, agreed to pay restitution to 22 customers as part of an agreement in which it neither admitted nor denied charges.

“Following a comprehensive internal review of our loan management accounts, we reported issues to FINRA, cooperated fully with their inquiry and have strengthened our controls and procedures,” spokesman Bill Halldin said.

FINRA’s helpline for senior investors can be reached at (844) 57-HELPS.

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