The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is fining Santander Investment Securities Inc. $350,000 over allegations that the brokerage firm failed to adequately supervise foreign fund offerings. The SRO says that the broker-dealer did not have a system in place to properly oversee communications between brokers, a registered firm principal, non-registered employees, and investors about the purchase of non-US funds.
FINRA found that the principal had the job of determining interest from institutional investors in the US for funds overseen by a fund manager who was affiliated with the firm but was not regulated by SRO or based in the US. The principal and those mentioned above contacted investors about buying non-US funds in the future.
FINRA says that Santander Investment Securities should have had a registered individual supervising the registered personnel in relation to these communications. It also found that these interactions took place at presentations where sales materials were given out to prospective investors. However, notes the SRO, the brokerage firm did not appoint an individual registered with the firm to make sure procedures and policies were being enforced at these gatherings, nor did it apply these protocols with the public or look at and approve the fund presentations and other materials. Copies of the material that was distributed were not kept, as required. FINRA says that the materials included claims that were exaggerated.
Santander Investment Securities turned in its letter of acceptance, consent, and waiver after FINRA entered its findings.
It is the duty of broker-dealers to set up and execute a reasonable supervisory system so that customers are shielded from abusive and negligent sales practices. Failure to set up such procedures and policies can be grounds for securities fraud liability if investors sustain losses because of inadequate supervision.
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