Citigroup Advisory Unit Fined $18.3M

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Citigroup Advisory Unit Fined $18.3M

Citigroup will pay $18.3 million to settle charges made by the SEC claiming that it overcharged its investment advisory clients. According to the SEC, Citigroup overbilled about 60,000 advisory clients by about $18 million.

The commission also said that Citigroup was not able to find about 83,000 client contracts that were executed from 1990 to 2012 and charged $3.2 million in fees to clients whose contracts Citigroup could not locate.

According to its deal with the SEC, the company was censured and will pay $3.2 million in disgorgement, $800,000 in interest, and a penalty of $14.3 million. It will further cease overbilling, create new advisory agreements with those customers whose contracts were lost, and place a link to the SEC’s order on its website.

“Advisory clients have every expectation that the fees charged by their financial adviser reflect the negotiated rate,” Andrew Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York office, stated. “Citigroup failed to take the necessary precautions to ensure clients were billed in a manner consistent with their advisory agreements.”

The issue arose partly because of the TRAK Fund Solution Program, which is built of wrap-fee accounts. Between 2000 and 2014, the firm charged about 43,000 accounts $13.5 million is excess of the fee as detailed in customer agreements, as they were not correctly put into the firm’s computer system.

Also, from 2001 to 2015, Citigroup charged over 15,000 advisory customers $3.5 million in fees for advisory services after clients had frozen their accounts.

Citigroup Global Markets has about 43,000 advisory accounts and $22 billion in assets under management. Smith Barney had been a division of Citigroup Global Markets until it was sold to Morgan Stanley.

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