Washington, D.C., Sept. 25, 2008 (LAWFUEL) – The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the completion of a nearly $32 million Fair Fund distribution to current and former customers of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. who were harmed by the firm’s failure to adequately disclose revenue sharing payments from a select group of mutual fund companies.
Ameriprise was formerly known as American Express Financial Advisors Inc. Approximately 575,000 investors were affected.
“This distribution marks another significant step in the Commission’s program to return money to investors injured by improper mutual fund practices,” said Merri Jo Gillette, Regional Director of the Chicago Regional Office.
The Fair Fund provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 provided the SEC with authority to distribute financial penalties to injured investors. Since 2002, the SEC has distributed more than $4 billion to injured investors.
“This case demonstrates that regardless of the manner in which investors were harmed, we will do everything possible to return funds to them from wrongdoers,” said Dick D’Anna, Director of the SEC’s Office of Collections and Distributions.
The SEC brought settled administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against Ameriprise on Dec. 1, 2005, for failing to adequately disclose its receipt of revenue sharing payments by affiliates of a select group of mutual fund families and administrators of 529 plans. Ameriprise consented to the entry of the SEC’s order without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings. The order found that between January 2001 and August 2004, Ameriprise did not adequately disclose to its customers that it received tens of millions of dollars each year in revenue sharing payments from affiliates of these mutual fund families for, among other things, inclusion on Ameriprise’s brokerage platform. The SEC’s order required Ameriprise to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of $15 million and financial penalties of $15 million into a Fair Fund for distribution to benefit customers of Ameriprise and to retain an independent consultant to administer the Fair Fund.
On April 9, 2008, the SEC approved a distribution plan, and appointed Nelson S. Kibler as the fund administrator responsible for distributing the Fair Fund. Eligible customers’ shares of the Fair Fund have been calculated based upon the amount of money each customer invested in certain mutual fund families’ mutual funds and 529 plans. Current customers who have active accounts with Ameriprise have received electronic distributions directly to their accounts at Ameriprise. Customers who no longer have active accounts with Ameriprise have been mailed checks to their last-known addresses. With today’s final distributions, investors will receive all disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties paid by Ameriprise, plus accumulated interest.
Further information about the distribution can be obtained on Ameriprise’s public website at www.ameriprise.com/funds.