An arbitration panel has ordered Stifel Nicholas & Co. to pay $70,000 out of a more than $7 million claim brought against the firm by Wachovia Securities for allegedly unfairly raiding one of its Oklahoma offices.

Wachovia first filed its claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in April 2009. In that claim, Wachovia alleged that Stifel took more than half of the advisors and business of its Tulsa, Okla., office.

That included the misappropriation of more than 100 confidential customer files, Wachovia claimed, as well as allegations of unfair competition, tortious interference and conversion.

A Stifel spokeswoman declined to comment on Tuesday. Tony Mattera, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia, also declined to comment.

Through the claim, Wachovia sought $5.3 million in compensatory damages tied to the raid plus $1.66 million in attorneys’ fees. Wachovia’s request totaled more than $7.2 million including other fees and interest.

Wachovia also initially requested a permanent injunction to prevent future raids of its firm by Stifel, though the firm withdrew that request before the arbitration hearing. Wachovia also dismissed its initial claims against Stifel employees Gary King and Sally Murray, who were subsequently not included in the arbitration panel’s decision. King serves as senior vice president of investments and branch manager in Tulsa, according to Stifel’s website, while Murray serves as vice president of investments.

The FINRA arbitration panel ordered Stifel to pay Wachovia $70,000 in compensatory damages. All other relief, including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees, was denied.

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.




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