Wells Fargo Advisors to Pay $3.5MM to Settle SAR Violations

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Wells Fargo Advisors was censured and agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle allegations the brokerage failed to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) for transactions suspected to be linked to money laundering.

The proceedings arose out of Wells Fargo Advisors’ failure to file or timely file at least 50 SARs, a majority of which related to continuing suspicious activity occurring in accounts held at Wells Fargo Advisors’ U.S branch offices that focused on international customers. By failing to file or timely file SARs as required, Wells Fargo Advisors willfully violated Section 17(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 17a-8.

According to the filing, Wells Fargo Advisors agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying the findings. After receiving a complaint from an employee in 2013 and conducting its own internal investigation, Wells Fargo hired an outside compliance firm to review its reporting practices, according to the SEC filing.

“We take these critical responsibilities seriously,” Wells Fargo Advisors said in a statement. “When confusion over our SAR reporting policies first arose internally, we took immediate steps to conduct an independent review that resulted in process improvements. We cooperated fully with the SEC’s investigation, and we remain committed to further self-reviews and enhancements that help ensure suspicious activity is disclosed in a timely manner.”

According to the filing, Wells Fargo Advisors was order to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations for Section 17(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 17a-8 and was ordered to pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $3.5 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission for transfer to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury.

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