The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. (OPY) must pay a $675,000 fine purportedly charging customers unfair prices in municipal securities transactions and not having a proper supervisory system in place to detect such activities. The firm must pay $246,000 in restitution, in addition to interest, to customers that were affected. The SRO is ordering David Sirianni, the head municipal securities trader at Oppenheimer, to pay a $100,000 fine and serve a 60-day suspension.
According to FINRA, from 7/1/08 through 6/30/09, Oppenheimer, via Sirianni, charged 89 customer transactions at 5.01% to 15.57% over its contemporaneous cost. (The markup was over 9.4% in over 50 of these transactions). The SRO said that it was Sirianni’s job to decide what prices the customers paid for these transactions. He was the one who bought the municipal securities for Oppenheimer, kept them in inventory, and then resold them to Oppenheimer clients.
FINRA contends that Oppenheimer should have but did not notice that customers were being charged prices that were unfair. The regulator believes it is because the firm has an inadequate supervisory system and that personnel only depended on a surveillance report showing intra-day transactions when assessing whether municipal securities transactions were fairly priced. It said that from around 2005 through the middle of 2009, sales made to some Oppenheimer customers were not included in the report or reviewed for fair pricing.
While Oppenheimer is settling FINRA’s charges, it is not denying or admitting to the allegations.
Contact our municipal fraud lawyers today.
Finra Fines Oppenheimer, Trader For Alleged Unfair Pricing, The Wall Street Journal, December 9, 2013
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