FINRA has ordered Santander Securities of Puerto Rico to pay $2 million in fines for violations tied to its structured products sales.
The deficiencies cited by FINRA in the sale of Santander’s investment products include the unsuitable sale of reverse convertible securities, a lack of supervision of the sales of structured products and of loans from its affiliated bank, among other violations.
From September 2007 to September 2008, Santander’s brokers were not provided guidance on suitability or training even though they were responsible for evaluating the structured products, FINRA said. The firm did not review the structured products before they were sold to customers. Once they were sold, Santander did not monitor the customer accounts for suitability, according to FINRA.
Structured products, as defined by FINRA, include securities that come from one security, a group of securities, commodity, debt issuance or foreign currency. They can limit upside participation and can vary on principal protection, interest and coupon rates.
Santander’s lack of oversight of the products resulted in customers losses, FINRA said, of which it has paid more than $7 million in reimbursements to customers for losses tied to investments in reverse convertible securities. Reverse convertibles are notes that bear interest where repayment of principal is tied to how a certain asset performs.
Customers affected include a retired couple in their 80s who lost more than $88,000 after initially investing more than $100,000 single reverse convertible position. That couple invested with a moderate risk tolerance, FINRA said. Another 36-year-old customer, who also invested with a moderate risk tolerance, lost about $80,000 after investing $95,000 in a single reverse convertible position.
The firm has since made those customers whole, according to FINRA’s statement. In addition to the fines, FINRA is also requiring Santander to review all of the training, written and supervision procedures related to those sales.
Santander was not immediately available for comment. The firm neither admitted nor denied the charges, FINRA said in its statement, but did acknowledge FINRA’s claims.
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