Brokers at units of the two banks recommended funds that invested in floating-rate debt to customers who weren’t looking for risky deals, the industry-funded regulatory group said today in a statement. Bank of America was fined $900,000 and ordered to reimburse $1.1 million in losses, while San Francisco-based Wells Fargo was ordered to pay a $1.25 million fine and about $2 million in restitution.
Salespeople at Banc of America Investment Services Inc. and Wells Fargo Investments LLC recommended the unsuitable mutual funds in 2007 and 2008, Finra said in regulatory filings. Customers lost money when they sold the funds after their value fell during the financial crisis, according to the regulator.
“Wells Fargo and Banc of America allowed their brokers to sell floating-rate bank loan funds to investors for whom the positions were unsuitable, resulting in significant losses to many customers,” Brad Bennett, Finra’s chief of enforcement, said in the statement.
The banks neither admitted nor denied the charges, Finra said. Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, said the firm was pleased to resolve the issue, while Wells Fargo’s Erica Van Ross declined to comment on Finra’s allegations.
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