Citigroup Stock Ratings Result in FINRA Fine
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has reached an $11 million agreement with Citigroup to settle claims regarding Citigroup stock ratings. The claims allege that the bank provided small investors with inaccurate information about stock analysts’ buy and sell recommendations.
Citigroup Misrepresented Stock Ratings
The FINRA complaint states that Citigroup misrepresented analysts’ views of more than 1,800 stocks, which told small investors that certain stocks had ‘buy’ ratings when in fact they were rated ‘sell,’ and vice versa. In some cases, investors received ratings for stocks that Citigroup analysts had stopped covering altogether.
The problem began in 2011 and continued through the end of 2015, well after several management-level executives at Citigroup became aware of the issue. According to FINRA, employees knew that customers were receiving incorrect Citigroup stock ratings on activity statements, but they did not understand why. At the end of 2015, an unnamed whistleblower reported the issue after he or she was unable to reconcile ratings displayed on a Citigroup portal with those printed in its research reports.
During this time, FINRA notes that Citigroup brokers solicited thousands of transactions and made statements to customers with information inconsistent with the firm’s actual ratings.
Citigroup Misrepresentation Affects Individual Investors
The inaccuracies of Citigroup stock ratings affected individual investors, putting the bank’s retail customers at a disadvantage. At this time, there is no indication that Citigroup intended to give its institutional clients an advantage over smaller investors.
FINRA says that Citigroup has agreed to pay $11.5 million in fines and compensatory damages to resolve the claims.
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