Merrill Lynch pays $40M Settlement For Broker Churning

Charles E. Kenahan, a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch in Boston since 2007, was fired following allegations of churning.  His client Robert Levine, co-founder of the former billion-dollar network equipment giant Cabletron Systems, accused the 34-year veteran broker of providing unsuitable investment recommendations and making excessive trades between February 2012 and December 2017.

FINRA Individual Settlement Largest In Over A Decade

The complaint, filed in March 2018, went to a final hearing in front of a FINRA arbitration panel, during which Merrill Lynch agreed to pay a settlement of $40 million dollars. According to Craig McCann, principal of the Securities Litigation and Consulting Group, this is the largest settlement involving an individual claimant in over a decade, with over 29,000 claimants during this time period.

Merrill Lynch Facing Additional Claim 

Merrill Lynch is also facing a similar claim for yet another of Kenahan’s clients, this time for the sum of $42 million dollars according to his FINRA BrokerCheck report.

The pending arbitration case was filed with FINRA in February of 2018 by former New Hampshire governor and co-founder of Cabletron Systems, Craig Benson. According to CNBC, Benson alleges that Kenahan churned his portfolio as well during his time with Merrill Lynch. Benson and a spokesperson for Merrill Lynch declined a request to comment.

If Benson’s case reaches a similar settlement, Bank of America Merrill Lynch will be paying over $80 million as a result of Kenahan’s excessive trading practices and churning.

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