Slideshow 13 Gifts That Could Get You In Big Trouble With FINRA

  • December 16 2011, 12:28am EST
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13 Gifts That Could You In Big Trouble With FINRA<br><br>

Registered broker-dealers should be extra cautious when giving gifts.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority prohibits executives at registered broker-dealers from giving gifts to any principal, officer or employee of another member organization, financial institution, news or financial information media, or non-member broker or dealer in securities, commodities or money market instruments of over $100 in value.

Here are a dozen gifts (plus one) which could ruin your holiday spirit -- and pocketbook -- if FINRA decides you have crossed the line.

1. Waterford Vase<br><br>

FINRA does say that plaques or other decorative items commemorating a business transaction or event are permissible but don’t think that sticking a logo on Waterford vase will exclude you from the rule. The item itself must have minimal value, says FINRA.

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2. Sports Tickets<br><br>

FINRA might overlook the amount if the tickets were to a regular season game, but your compliance officer won’t. And the officer might notify FINRA.

3. Free Weekend Stay<br><br>

So you want to make an underpaid overworked executive feel a little more appreciated? Forget about it. A weekend stay in even the shabbiest of hotels will easily cost over $100.

4. Use of Your Country Home<br><br>

It may not sound like it has any marketable value, if you’re not using it. But it does. Depending on the location, the rent could easily equate to at least $1,000 a week.

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5. A Round of Golf<br><br>

Isn’t a lot of business transacted over a round of golf? Perhaps, but FINRA won’t be happy if the round of golf cost more than $100. Pebble Beach? Fahgeddaboutit. That's $495. Without renting clubs.

6. Gift Cards<br><br>

It's the same as cash. Keep it under $100 or watch out.

7. Re-Gifting<br><br>

Passing along an expensive coffee maker, cutlery or set of dishes you may have received from a friend or relative to an employee of another firm might be thoughtful. But it isn’t legal.

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8. Travel<br><br>

Helping out a friend spend the holidays with family may feel charitable, but FINRA wants your charity to stay at home.

9. Dining Out<br><br>

Who doesn’t like to entertain at the best establishment in town? But a few rounds of drinks, a bottle of bubbly and surf and turf can easily surpass $100 a head.

10. Flowers<br><br>

Yes, women love flowers, barring any allergies. But don't get too exotic. An elegant arrangement of a dozen roses can easily pass the magic $100 mark.

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11. Chocolate<br><br>

Godiva is a favorite chocolate. A manager at its Columbus Circle store points to its top pick, a basket coined the "ultimate collection of chocolate."

“It’s only $150 and makes an ideal office gift,” she exclaimed. FINRA won’t think so (but feel free to pick up the sample peppermint truffle on the way out).

12. Spa Treatment<br><br>

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York says it can offer you the best spa experience in Manhattan. It will take only 80 minutes for a massage. The cost: $400.

Very Unlucky 13. Chinese Moon Cakes<br><br>

There is one gift which could certainly meet FINRA’s requirement: a box of Chinese moon cakes. It’s a common gift or guanxi in China.

But offer that to any official on the mainland and you could be whammied under the U.S Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act and mainland China’s new anti-bribery laws.

It won’t matter whether the mooncakes cost way under $100 or whether you should have given them during the Chinese Moon Festival.