The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Merrill Lynch is in talks with former Merrill brokers concerning disputes over unvested stock in deferred compensation plans that the brokers had at Merrill. On April 3, 2012, a FINRA arbitration panel awarded two former brokers $5 million in compensatory damages and $100,00 in discover sanctions for Merrill’s clear and blatant violations of the Panel’s prior orders. The panel also took the unusual step in awarding punitive damages of $5 million stating, among other things that:
“Based upon all of the evidence presented, the Panel has determined that Respondent Merrill Lynch directly and indirectly through its Senior Management, who were corporate officers, managing agents, and/or corporate policymakers, have intentionally, willfully and deliberately engaged in a systematic and systemic fraudulent scheme to deprive Claimants of their rights and benefits under its Deferred Compensation Programs (FACAAP, Growth Award and Wealthbuilder) as well as other benefits to avoid liability after the change in control in September, 2008.”
FINRA Case No. 10-04432 (Boca Raton, FL).