FINRA Bashes Raymond James Compliance; Record Fine


IBankInvestmentConsultant) FINRA fined Raymond James $17 million for “widespread failures” in the firm’s anti-money laundering compliance program, making it the largest penalty that the regulator has dished out for that type of infraction, a spokeswoman says.

The failures occurred in Raymond James’ employee and independent channels, which were fined $8 million and $9 million respectively. FINRA also fined former Raymond James & Associates compliance officer Linda Busby $25,000 and suspended her for three months.

Raymond James has been a fast-growing firm through recruiting top wirehouse advisers and making key acquisitions, such as brokerage firm Morgan Keagan. The St. Petersburg, Fla-based firm recently reported that it had roughly 6,700 advisers – making it almost as large as UBS.

However, FINRA says the firm’s growth spurt from 2006 to 2014 wasn’t matched by commensurate growth in the firm’s anti-money laundering compliance systems and processes.

The regulator says Raymond James was relying “upon a patchwork of written procedures and systems across different departments to detect suspicious activity,” and that some red flags went unnoticed.

Brad Bennett, FINRA’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement says Raymond James’ missteps are particularly “egregious” because the firm’s independent broker-dealer had been fined for similar issues in 2012.

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