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Citigroup Fined for Telling Clients to Buy When It Meant Sell

December 28, 2017, 5:35 PM UTC
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Citigroup Inc. will pay $11.5 million to resolve Financial Industry Regulatory Authority claims that a brokerage unit harmed retail customers by displaying inaccurate research ratings for hundreds of securities for nearly five years.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. showed incorrect ratings — such as “buy” instead of “sell” — to brokers, customers and supervisors on 38 percent of the equities covered by its research department from February 2011 to December 2015, Finra said in a statement on Thursday.

Errors in an electronic feed of data provided to a clearing firm caused the incorrect ratings, Finra said. Citigroup failed to correct the problems despite numerous red flags and failed to conduct sufficient testing to verify its ratings data, the regulator said.

“The display and use of incomplete and inaccurate research ratings can have widespread, adverse consequences to customers,” Susan Schroeder, Finra’s head of enforcement, said in the statement. “Even when such inaccuracies are caused by technology problems, firms should react quickly to address those errors.”

The firm agreed to resolve the regulator’s claims without admitting or denying wrongdoing, and will pay a $5.5 million fine and provide $6 million in compensation to retail customers.