February 19, 2013

FINRA fines 5 ING units $1.2M for email breach

The U.S. securities industry's self-police arm fined five affiliates of Dutch insurer ING Group $1.2 million for failing to meet guidelines for reviewing and handling email correspondence with clients.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) said the units cited are: Directed Services LLC; ING America Equities Inc.; ING Financial Advisers LLC; ING Financial Partners Inc.; and ING Investment Advisors LLC.

ING U.S. Inc., the firm's retirement, investment and insurance business unit based in Windsor, does not appear to be a direct party to the sanctions. Reached Tuesday, an ING spokesman had not immediate comment.

FINRA found that, among other things, the quintet failed to properly configure hundreds of employee email accounts to ensure that the emails sent to and from those accounts were retained and reviewed at various times between 2004 and 2012.

"As a result of broad systemic failures, these firms failed to capture and retain emails from hundreds of representatives and other associated persons, and failed to take adequate steps to ensure that their principals were fulfilling their responsibilities to review emails,'' said Finra enforcement chief Brad Bennett.

None of the firms admitted nor denied the charges, Finra said.

FINRA said it ordered the firms to conduct a comprehensive review of their systems for the capture, retention and review of email, and to subsequently certify that they have established procedures reasonably designed to address and correct the violations.

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