American Express Financial Advisors Inc. will pay New Jersey $5 million and implement company-wide reforms to address allegations that it failed to reasonably supervise its financial advisors. The settlement follows revelations that a financial advisor in AEFA's Voorhees, N.J., office stole more than $400,000 from at least 22 clients. The New Jersey Bureau of Securities discovered the theft, and expanded its investigation with the uncovering of widespread problems involving AEFA's failure to supervise financial advisors within its franchise offices. "In investigating and prosecuting this individual, we identified a larger issue of inadequate supervision of the company's financial advisors," said New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "To its credit, American Express has worked cooperatively with our office to address deficiencies in its oversight of financial advisors." Harvey vowed to continue his scrutiny of financial advisory services. "We are taking a hard look at the industry," he added. "Where we find firms failing in this area and the failures are significant, we will be imposing major penalties and demanding significant reforms."
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