Edward Jones has agreed to pay more than $20 million to settle SEC charges that it overpriced new issues of municipal bonds.
The SEC alleged that from February 2009 to December 2012, the firm took new bonds into inventory and marked them up to customers during the offering period, or sold new-issue bonds at higher prices once secondary trading began.
Edward Jones generated at least $4.6 million in additional revenue through the scheme, which involved about 156 different bonds in which the firm served as a co-manager, the SEC said in its settlement document.
That ill-gotten gain was in addition to fees that Edward Jones earned as a member of underwriting syndicates, the SEC said.
The firm will set up a disgorgement fund of $5.2 million to pay back customers, and pay a fine to the SEC and MSRB of $15 million.
Also charged in the case was the Edward Jones’ former head of municipal underwriting, Stina Wishman.
Wishman settled for $15,000 and a two-year bar. She retired from Edward Jones in July 2014.
Edward Jones and Wishman did not admit or deny the charges.
Additionally, the firm was charged with general supervisory failures in its review of secondary-market municipal bond trades.
“Because current rules do not require dealers to disclose markups on municipal bonds, investors receive very little information about their dealer’s compensation in municipal bond trades,” said LeeAnn Ghazil Gaunt, chief of the SEC enforcement division’s municipal unit, in a statement.