- Firm will pay $8.9mn for failed to disclose conflict of interest from own business.
- In deciding if to continue to offer clients product managed by third-party advisor.
- Conflict arose in handling third-party products of US subsidiary of a foreign bank.
- Over 1,500 of Merrill’s retail advisory accounts had invested $575mn in products.
- Merrill put new investments on hold, due to a management change at third party.
- Governance committee planned to vote on recommendation to terminate product.
- Third-party manager sought to stop ban, and contacted senior Merrill executives.
- Via making an appeal to consider their companies’ broader business relationship.
- After communication, governance committee did not vote and deferred its action
- Committee later lifted hold and opened third-party products to new firm accounts.
- Failed to disclose to clients, conflicts of interest in firm’s decision-making process.
- Merrill agreed to pay over $4mn disgorgement, $806k interest and $4mn penalty.