A March 1, 2019 article by AdvisorHub reports that Oppenheimer & Company has offered to return $3.5 million in funds to investors who were eligible to purchase less expensive mutual fund share classes between 2014 and 2018, as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “amnesty program” for firms that self-report violations involving mutual fund sales. According to that report, Oppenheimer & Company has filed a settlement offer with the SEC which, if approved, would see the firm disgorge 12b-1 fees it charged over that period, and to assess whether its mutual fund customers “should be moved to a lower-cost share class.”
Oppenheimer’s offer comes a year after the SEC announced a program that would waive penalties for firms that acknowledged their failures to inform customers whether they had conflicts of interest inherent in selling mutual fund share classes that resulted in their collection of 12b-1 fees. The SEC has not announced “how many advisory firms took up the offer,” according to the article, although it said it anticipates the return of significant sums to investors. Under the program, firms that self-report will have to disgorge the funds they collected with interest, accept censures from the SEC, and accept cease-and-desist orders. However, they will not be required to pay penalties to the SEC. Just as it has not disclosed how many firms have taken its offer, per AdvisorHub, the SEC has also not disclosed whether it has taken any settlement offers from advisory firms.
The AdvisorHub report also states that the SEC is probing firms that it suspects have not properly disclosed their incentives to sell mutual fund share classes that result in their collection of 12b-1 fees as opposed to share classes that don’t. “In unveiling the self-disclosure program, the SEC said it had imposed ‘significant penalties’ against nine investment advisory firms in recent years,” according to the article, “and has repeatedly cautioned investment advisers and other market participants to examine their share class selection policies and procedures and disclosure practices.”
If you believe you may have been sold mutual fund share classes that incurred 12b-1 fees when you were eligible for less expensive mutual fund share classes, whether with Oppenheimer & Company or any other firm, call Fitapelli Kurta at 877-238-4175 for a free consultation. You may be eligible to recoup your losses. Fitapelli Kurta accepts all cases on a contingency basis: we only get paid if and when you collect money. Time to file your claim may be limited, so we encourage you to avoid delay. Call 877-238-4175 now to speak to an attorney for free.