The Texas State Securities Board has fined Wachovia Securities $4 million for misleading investors about auction-rate securities. The Wells Fargo & Co unit must also have completed buying back ARS from investor clients in Texas by June 30.
This is the final step in the auction-rate securities case against Wachovia in which a tentative settlement agreement was reached last year when Wachovia Securities agreed to pay back over $8.5 billion in ARS from investors throughout the US.
It is also part of Texas’s efforts to deal with problems related to securities. The nearly $4 million is Texas’s share of the $50 million penalty Wachovia said it would pay. Last December, the Texas State Securities Board issued a final order mandating that Citigroup pay the state $3.6 million for making misrepresentations to investors about the auction-rate securities.
According to the Texas order, Wachovia Securities created misconception when it told investors that ARS were like cash and could be retrieved at nearly any time. The order accused Wachovia and its registered securities agents of knowing that the ARS market was in trouble yet neglecting to provide investors with this information. Wachovia Securities is one of the registered securities dealers in Texas.
UBS Financial Services, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup are among the large investment firms that reached similar billion-dollar settlements with state regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The collapse of the auction-rate securities market in February 2008 left many investors with frozen ARS that they thought were going to remain liquid and safe.
Wachovia Securities Ordered To Pay Texas $4 Million In ARS Probe, CNNMoney.com, March 17, 2009
Texas State Securities Board
Our securities fraud attorneys have been working with many investors whose funds got tied up in the ARS market because broker-dealers and investment advisers told them that auction-rate securities were safe and liquid like cash. Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP today.