UBS Securities, Citigroup Global Markets, and Deutsche Bank Securities Agree to FINRA Sanction Over Vonage IPO

Citigroup Global Markets, Deutsche Bank Securities, and UBS Securities have agreed to pay fines for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sanctions over their handling of Vonage LLC stock’s initial public offering in 2006. FINRA says that the firms’ failure to adequately supervise communications with customers cost investors hundreds of thousands of dollars. By agreeing to settle, none of the broker-dealers are agreeing to or denying wrongdoing.

The three firms acted as the Vonage offering’s lead underwriters. A “directed share program” was included. Clients used accounts with the broker-dealers to purchase about 4.2 million shares.

An external company designed and administered a Web site for DSP participants that the firms’ clients used to communicate about the IPO. According to the SRO, however, inadequate supervision and the failure to follow procedures regarding outside sourcing and directed share programs resulted in the broker-dealers being unable to respond appropriately or take effective action when certain clients obtained misinformation about their orders.

By the time customers were finally notified that shares were allocated to them, the Vonage stock price had dropped significantly compared to the offering price. In addition to paying the higher price, investors sustained financial losses when the stocks were sold.

UBS, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank have agreed to fines totaling $845,000. UBS will pay a $150,000 fine and a maximum of $118,000 to 26 clients who are potentially eligible. In addition to its $175,000 fine, Citigroup will pay 284 potentially eligible customers a maximum of $250,000. Deutsche Bank will pay 59 potentially eligible clients a maximum of $52,000, plus its $100,000. Customers are to be compensated the difference between Vonage stock’s price when clients found out they had been allocated shares and the $17/share IPO price that they paid.

Related Web Resources:
FINRA Fines Citigroup Global Markets, UBS and Deutsche Bank $425,000, Orders Customer Restitution for Supervisory Failures in Vonage IPO, FINRA, September 22, 2009
Citi, UBS, Deutsche Fined Over Vonage IPO

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