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FINRA fines 5 banks $4.5 million over fees

WASHINGTON — The Financial­ Industry Regulatory Authority said Thursday that five of the country’s largest banks will pay $4.5 million to settle claims they used municipal and state bond funds to pay lobbyists.

The regulatory agency said that between 2006 and 2010, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley made payments to the California business lobbying group Cal PSA and requested that those payments be reimbursed as underwriting expenses from the proceeds of municipal and state bond offerings.

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FINRA also said the firms did not adequately disclose the nature of the fees to issuers. By not doing so, they violated fair dealing and supervisory regulationss.

The firms neither admitted to nor denied the charges.

FINRA is a regulator for securities­ firms doing business in the United States.

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