FINRA Fines Morgan Stanley $1 Million and Orders Restitution of $188,000 for Best Execution and Fair Pricing Violations in Customer Bond Transactions
WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has fined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC $1 million and ordered $188,000 in restitution plus interest for failing to provide best execution in certain customer transactions involving corporate and agency bonds, and failing to provide a fair and reasonable price in certain customer transactions involving municipal bonds. The requirement to pay restitution is in addition to restitution that Morgan Stanley paid previously to customers for transactions covered by this settlement.
FINRA found that Morgan Stanley failed to use reasonable diligence to ensure that the purchase or sale price to the customer was as favorable as possible under current market conditions in 116 customer transactions involving corporate and agency bonds. Additionally, in 165 transactions involving municipal bonds, Morgan Stanley failed to purchase or sell bonds at prices reasonably related to the fair market value of the subject security.
Thomas Gira, Executive Vice President, FINRA Market Regulation, said, "Firms must ensure that customers who buy and sell securities – including corporate, agency, and municipal bonds – receive execution prices that are consistent with prices available in the marketplace. FINRA will continue to sanction firms that execute fixed income transactions for their customers at unfair prices, and will require firms that violate such standards to reimburse customers."
In concluding this settlement, Morgan Stanley neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2012, members of the public used this service to conduct 14.6 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA's Disciplinary Actions Online database.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.