The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has fined and suspended former Merrill Lynch broker, Sofia Gonzalez, for reimbursing two clients a total of $1,234 for losses sustained with their purchase and sale of certificates of deposit.
According to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent issued by FINRA, Gonzalez provided two Merrill Lynch customers with information about various CDs offered by the firm. The day after her clients purchased CDs for $150,000 and $200,000 each, Gonzalez informed each client that she had made an error describing the product terms. To cover their losses, she purchased two cashier’s checks for $511 and $722 from her personal bank account.
Gonzalez was also accused of communicating with the clients via text from her personal cell phone about their account activity, including the CD purchase and agreement to reimburse their losses.
Merrill Lynch prohibits brokers from sharing in a customer’s loss, and FINRA prohibits sharing in profits/losses without prior written permission from the customer and the broker-dealer; and communicating with firm customers with personal devices is against Merril’s written supervisory procedures and FINRA’s rule of maintaining business-related communications.
FINRA issued a two-month suspension and $5,000 fine against Gonzalez, who has no previous disciplinary history with any regulatory agency.