NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced on Tuesday an administrative consent order requiring Merrill Lynch to pay $728,260 in civil penalties.
Dow alleged that since at least Jan. 1, 2004, Merrill Lynch employed client associates who were not registered as agents in certain states yet conducted sales of securities in those states anyway.
Merrill Lynch was found to have not adequately supervised client associates and their actions, even though its own established, written procedures call on them to do so, Dow claims.
"The Bureau of Securities has acted to protect investors and to ensure legal compliance by companies that operate in New Jersey," Dow said.
"This settlement underscores how vital the work of state securities regulators is, especially during these difficult financial times."
In addition to the civil penalties, Merrill Lynch, which cooperated fully, must also revise its business practices to comply with state laws and regulations. The have already implemented several, including a system to monitor the status of persons who accept client orders.
It is believed that nearly 700 client associates who were employed in New Jersey are now registered as agents following the investigation.