SEC orders BB&T to return over $5 million to investors to settle chargesStaff Writer |
America That is to settle charges that a firm it acquired misled its advisory clients
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that BB&T Securities has agreed to return more than $5 million to retail investors and pay a $500,000 penalty.
According to the SEC’s order, Valley Forge Asset Management used misleading statements and inadequate disclosures about its brokerage services and prices to convince customers to choose the in-house broker.
Despite promises of a high level of service at a low cost, the SEC’s order finds that Valley Forge did not provide any additional services to advisory clients using its in-house brokerage than it did to advisory clients who chose other brokerages with significantly lower commission rates.
According to the order, Valley Forge charged commissions averaging roughly 4.5 times more than what clients would have paid using other brokerage options, and the firm obscured the price difference by claiming that it was giving clients a 70 percent discount off of its supposed retail commission rate.
The SEC’s order finds that BB&T Securities as the successor in interest to Valley Forge violated Sections 206(2) and 207 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
Without admitting or denying the findings, BB&T Securities consented to a cease-and-desist order, a censure, and agreed to pay disgorgement of $4,712,366 and prejudgment interest of $497,387, which it will distribute to affected current and former clients through a Fair Fund, as well as a $500,000 penalty.
BB&T Securities has ended Valley Forge’s existing directed brokerage program by amending its cost structure and its disclosures. ■
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