FINRA recently fined LPL Financial (CRD #6413) for failing to disclose customer complaints and for failures in the firm’s anti-money laundering (AML) program.
A misunderstanding with FINRA’s rule caused LPL to ignore dozens of customer complaints. The firm incorrectly failed to file and/or update registered representatives U4 or U5 forms to disclose dozens of reportable customer complaints that should have been filed. These claims requested compensatory damages of $5,000 or more. A representative for FINRA stated, “LPL incorrectly construed this phrase to mean that the firm was not required to report any complaint that did not expressly request compensation, even when the customer alleged a sales practice violation that caused a loss of $5,000 or more, and the complaint, when viewed as a whole, made clear that the customer was seeking compensation.” LPL has been the subject of multiple customer complaints frequently filed as securities arbitration claims, claiming significant damages.
LPL also failed to file suspicious activity reports related to its AML program. Because of inaccurate guidance in the firm’s internal processes, including a “fraud case chart,” employees failed to investigate unauthorized attempts to access customer accounts. More than 400 “hacking” attempts of customer accounts went unreported.