* N.J. ATTORNEY GENERAL BUSTS AMEX FINANCIAL ADVISORS: 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."
* FORMER SEC CHAIR TO ADVISE AIG BOARD: Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt has been named as a special advisor to insurer and financial services provider American International Group Inc.
Levitt, 74, was the longest-serving chairman in the history of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which he ran from 1993 to 2001. The company said that Levitt's duties will include providing advice on potential nominees for election to the board of directors, as well as on board procedures, structure and governance issues.
Prior to joining the SEC, Levitt served as the chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the American Stock Exchange, after spending 16 years on Wall Street.
The insurer also announced that vice president Charles H. Dangelo, who had been president of AIG Global Risk Management, will become the company's senior reinsurance officer. Dangelo will be responsible for all outward reinsurance relationships.
AIG has been at the center of probes by both the SEC and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over improper accounting. A fraud lawsuit filed by Spitzer against former AIG chair Maurice "Hank" Greenberg led in early June to Greenberg's resignation from the board after running the company for nearly 40 years. The suit accuses Greenberg of misleading regulators and investors by using sham reinsurance contracts.
AIG, which was also named in the civil suit, has already restated five years of earnings, lowering its net income by 10 percent, and seen the company's market value fall by almost $35 billion.
* FISERV ISS AND EFFICIENT FORMS SEAL AUTOMATED PAPERWORK PACT: Fiserv Investment Support Services and Efficient Forms LLC have sealed a partnership pact to automate the online paperwork, including the use of e-signatures, for Fiserv clients.
Terms were not disclosed.
According to Fiserve, clients will use Efficient Forms' IForms Suite to log in to the Fiserv ISS Web site, and can subsequently select an action to perform, such as opening a retirement account or changing an address. They will be directed to complete a questionnaire that automatically populates the form, which the client can review and then affix their electronic signature. The form is then submitted to Fiserv ISS.
Plans are to implement the automated forms system in the advisor services area by the end of this year. The investment administration, institutional retirement plan and financial institution service areas will implement the system beginning in 2006. Clients who prefer to use paper forms will still have that option available.
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