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Merrill Lynch fined by FINRA for 529 sales practices

(January 19, 2011) - Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine to FINRA and to notify customers who opened an advisor-sold 529 plan with Merrill Lynch between June 2002 and February 2007 that the they can move their accounts to a home-state 529 plan at no additional cost.

FINRA found that Merrill Lynch failed to establish and maintain specific procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with industry suitability standards related to the sale of 529 plans, and that the firm's written supervisory procedures did not adequately ensure that its registered representatives were considering home-state income tax benefits during their 529 suitability analysis.

FINRA Case #2009018907001

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