This month, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) reprimanded First Clearing, LLC, a St. Louis-based brokerage firm, for insufficient anti-money laundering (AML) protections in FINRA Case #2008012791101. First Clearing consented to the described sanctions, without admitting or denying the findings, submitting the firm to $400,000 in fines. The AML inadequacies focused on the firm's practice of only reviewing transactions regarding a limited amount of potentially suspicious activity. FINRA findings stated that "the firm generated many exception reports and alerts dealing with potentially suspicious securities transactions and money movements in customer accounts that were introduced by unaffiliated broker-dealers to the firm." However, a majority of these exception reports were not reviewed. As a result, FINRA concluded that First Clearing did not have an adequate program for detecting, reviewing, and reporting suspicious activities as required by the Suspicious Activities Report (SAR) reporting provisions of 31 U.S.C. 5318(g) and NASD Rule 3011(a). Previously in March 2009, FINRA levied fines against First Clearing for the firm's failure to provide the required notifications to customers over a five-year period ending in 2008.
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