FINRA has fined Merrill Lynch brokerage firm $300,000 for its misconduct associated with a New York Stock Exchange branch office examination and for other supervisory misconduct. Among other things, FINRA found that Merrill Lynch provided inaccurate and deceptive information to NYSE Regulation examiners who were conducting a branch-office examination relating to unregistered cold callers. FINRA also found that Merrill Lynch instructed employees to hide or remove an unapproved facsimile machine and failed to properly supervise a broker who held himself out as an attorney on Merrill Lynch stationery and business cards even though he was not licensed or admitted to practice law before any state or federal bar. The findings also stated that Merrill Lynch failed to provide evidence that it reviewed and supervised incoming or outgoing written communications and facsimiles at certain branch offices. FINRA also found other supervisory lapses.
It is our hope that fines such as these provide sufficient incentive for brokerage firms to take their duties seriously and to act in a manner that serves to protect investors who entrust their savings to brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch.