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Citigroup Settles with SEC Over Client Billing Inaccuracies, Recordkeeping Failures

Citigroup Global Markets recently reached an agreement to pay $18.3 million, among other undertakings, to settle SEC charges that it overbilled investment advisory clients and misplaced client contracts. According to the SEC’s settlement order, at least 60,000 advisory clients were overcharged approximately $18 million in unauthorized fees because Citigroup failed to confirm the accuracy of billing rates entered into its computer systems in comparison to fee rates outlined in client contracts, billing histories, and other documents.  Citigroup also improperly collected fees during periods when clients suspended their accounts.  The billing errors occurred during a 15-year period, and the affected clients have been reimbursed, according to the order. The SEC also found that Citigroup could not locate approximately 83,000 advisory contracts for accounts opened from 1990 and thus could not properly validate whether the fee rates negotiated by clients when accounts were opened were the same advisory fee rates being billed to clients over the years.