WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has fined Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. $3.5 million for providing inaccurate mortgage performance information, supervisory failures and other violations in connection with subprime residential mortgage-backed securitizations (RMBS).
Issuers of RMBS are required to disclose historical performance information for past securitizations that contain mortgage loans similar to those in the RMBS being offered to investors. Historical data on mortgage performance is material to investors in assessing the value of RMBS and in determining whether future returns may be disrupted by mortgage holders' failures to make loan payments.
Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, "Citigroup posted data for its RMBS deals that it should have known was inaccurate; and even after they learned that the data was inaccurate, Citigroup did not correct the problem until years later. Investors use this data to inform their decisions and in this case, for over six years, investors potentially used faulty data to assess the value of the RMBS."
FINRA found that from January 2006 to October 2007, Citigroup posted inaccurate mortgage performance data on its website, where it remained until early May 2012, even though the firm lacked a reasonable basis to believe that this data was accurate. On multiple occasions, Citigroup was informed that the information posted was inaccurate yet failed to correct the data until May 2012. For three subprime or Alt-A securitizations, the firm provided inaccurate mortgage performance data that may have affected investors' assessment of subsequent RMBS.
In addition, Citigroup failed to supervise mortgage-backed securities pricing because it lacked procedures to verify the pricing of these securities and did not sufficiently document the steps taken to assess the reasonableness of traders' prices. Also, Citigroup failed to maintain required books and records. In certain instances, when it re-priced mortgage-backed securities following a margin call, Citigroup failed to maintain a record of the original margin call, document the supervisory approval or demonstrate that the revised price was applied to the same position throughout the firm.
In settling this matter, Citigroup neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
The investigation was conducted by Jeanne Elmadany, Allen Boyer and Thomas Cortese under the supervision of Susan Light, Enforcement Chief Counsel, with the assistance of FINRA's Department of Risk Oversight and Operational Regulation.
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 2011, members of the public used this service to conduct 14.2 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.