Citigroup Global Markets Fined $500,000 by FINRA for Inadequate Supervision of Broker Accused of Bilking Sick and Elderly Investors

Two months after a federal grand jury indicted Tamara Lanz Moon for misappropriating more than $800,000 in clients’ money, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined Citigroup Global Markets $500,000 for failing to properly supervise her. Moon is charged with six counts of mail fraud. The acts of broker misconduct allegedly took place between 2001 and 2008, when the 43-year-old broker was employed by Citigroup Global Markets as a registered sales assistant with Series 7 and 63 licenses.

Court documents report that Moon targeted at least 22 Citigroup clients who were sick, elderly, or for some reason couldn’t properly monitor their accounts. Her alleged victims included an elderly client suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Moon also allegedly forged signatures, changed account documents, opened accounts with deceased clients’ social security numbers, created bogus letters of authorization, revised customer addresses, and made unauthorized trades. She was fired in 2008 after Citigroup finally discovered her alleged misconduct. FINRA would go on to permanently barred her from the industry. Moon, who was arrested by the FBI following recent indictment, is out on bail.

According to FINRA, Citigroup failed to investigate or detect a number of “red flags” that should have let the financial firm know that Moon was improperly handing client funds. The SRO is also accusing FINRA of failing to put into place reasonable controls and systems related to the supervisory review of client accounts, which allowed Moon to falsify records, and neglecting to identify suspicious activity related to disbursements and transfers in the accounts that she was using to misappropriate clients’ money.

FINRA says that Moon was able to use Citigroup’s “lax supervisory practices” to bilk the financial firm’s “most vulnerable” clients. The SRO says that Citigroup could have and should have stopped her.

Among the warning signs that Citigroup is accused of not responding to:
• Address discrepancies in exception reports regarding an elderly widow whom Moon bilked of almost $80,000. When Moon explained to Citigroup that the inaccuracy occurred because the client had moved to Arizona, Citigroup accepted the reason she provided, which allowed her to keep misappropriating client money.

• Even after Citigroup was told that one customer had died, Moon was still able to create an account in that person’s name and that dead client’s widow. She then transferred money from the deceased client’s bogus account to the widow’s fraudulent account, wrote checks from the widow’s account, and transferred several thousand dollars to her personal account.

• Even though Moon set up a fraudulent account in her dad’s name, transferred $150,000 of a customer’s account into the bogus account, and took $90,000 of that money that she moved into one of her accounts, Citigroup didn’t detect her misconduct. FINRA says that this because Citigroup’s review of customer account records was deficient.

By agreeing to settle, Citigroup is not denying or admitting to the securities charges.

FINRA Fines Citigroup $500,000 for Failing to Supervise Sales Assistant Who Misappropriated Customer Funds, FINRA, August 9, 2011
Citigroup Global Markets Fined $500,000 in FINRA Failure to Supervise Case, Forbes, August 10, 2011
Citigroup Aide Stole From Widows, Father, Finra Says, Bloomberg, August 25, 2009

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