In a fine that is on one hand bizarre, and on the other vindication for all those who claim that nearly two decades after the Henry Blodget fiasco banks still tell their customers to do one thing (i.e. “buy”) while meaning the opposite, Citigroup was ordered to pay at least $11.5 million in fines and restitution to settle charges it displayed the wrong research ratings on more than 1,800 stocks, “causing many customers to own shares they never would have bought” a market regulator ordered on Thursday.
FINRA fined Citigroup $5.5 million and ordered it to pay at least $6 million to retail customers over errors that occurred between February 2011 and December 2015, and involved more than 38% of the equity securities that the New York-based bank covered. From the filing:
FINRA found that from February 2011 through December 2015, Citigroup Global Markets Inc displayed to its brokers, retail customers and supervisors inaccurate research ratings for more than 1,800 equity securities —more than 38 percent of those covered by the firm. Because of errors in the electronic feed of ratings data that the firm provided to its clearing firm, the firm either displayed the wrong rating for some covered securities (e.g., “buy” instead of “sell”), displayed ratings for other securities that CGMI did not cover or failed to display ratings for securities that CGMI, in fact, rated. The firm’s actual research reports, which were available to brokers, and the research ratings appearing in those reports, were not affected by these errors.