Ameriprise has been fined, resulting in an agreement to pay an $850,000 fine to settle allegations from FINRA that it failed to catch and stop a sales assistant who was siphoning cash from his relatives’ accounts, even though the company had just improved its systems after a similar failure. The funds came from five different accounts.
According to FINRA’s chief of enforcement Brad Bennett, “firms need to pay special attention when funds are wired from customer brokerage accounts to accounts controlled by registered representatives, and will be held responsible when their representatives use their insider status to prey upon customers.”
The sales assistant and office manager converted more than $370,000 between October 2011 and September 2013 from relatives by submitting wire requests to transfer funds from Ameriprise brokerage accounts into PFG accounts, claiming they were for investments. The funds were then converted to pay himself commissions and additional salary, and to take cash.
Despite updating their supervisory systems in 2012 to prevent this type of fraud, Ameriprise failed to detect the office manager’s transfers even though their anti-fraud system flagged some of the suspected transactions. As a result, Ameriprise agreed to the $850,000 fine and to certify that it had adopted and implemented written supervisory policies designed to oversee third-party wire transfers from its customers’ accounts.
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