Adjudications & Decisions
When FINRA determines that violations of securities rules have occurred and formal disciplinary action is necessary, the Enforcement Department files a complaint with the Office of Hearing Officers (OHO).
The Office arranges a three-person panel to hear the case. The panel is chaired by a hearing officer who is an employee of the Office of Hearing Officers. The Chief Hearing Officer appoints two industry panelists, drawn primarily from a pool of current and former securities industry members of FINRA's District Committees, as well as its Market Regulation Committee, former members of FINRA's National Adjudicatory Council (NAC) and former FINRA Governors.
At the hearing, the parties present evidence for the panel to determine whether a firm or individual has engaged in conduct that violates FINRA rules, SEC regulations or federal securities laws. In reaching its decision, the hearing panel also considers previous court, SEC, and NAC decisions to determine if violations occurred. The NAC is the national committee which reviews initial decisions rendered in FINRA disciplinary and membership proceedings.
For each case, the hearing panel will issue a written decision explaining the reasons for its ruling and consult the FINRA Sanction Guidelines to determine the appropriate sanctions if violations have occurred. FINRA also, when feasible and appropriate, can order firms and individuals to make restitution to harmed customers.
Under FINRA's disciplinary procedures, a firm or individual has the right to appeal a hearing panel decision to the NAC, or the NAC may on its own initiate a review of a decision. On appeal, the NAC will determine if a hearing panel's findings were legally correct, factually supported and consistent with FINRA's Sanction Guidelines. While a panel decision is on appeal, the sanction is not enforced against the firm or individual.
Unless FINRA's Board of Governors decides to review the NAC's appellate decision, that decision represents FINRA's final action. A firm or individual can appeal FINRA's decision to the SEC and then to federal court.