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The United States Department of Labor (DoL) has announced that the Bank of New York Mellon has agreed to pay $84 million to settle allegations including that the bank:

 

  • mislead clients into believing it was "pricing their transactions in a more favorable manner" while in fact "for most standing instruction foreign currency exchange transactions with customers, including retirement plans, the bank assigned nearly the worst prices at which currencies had traded in the market during all or part of a day";
  • "misrepresented and failed to disclose to clients how it was pricing the transactions and that the bank had engaged in a deliberate, prolonged effort to conceal its pricing methods"; and
  • breached its fiduciary duties and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (further information).

According to labor secretary Thomas Perez, "this case is a reminder that financial institutions charged with safeguarding retirement plan assets, sometimes put the institution's interests ahead of those of the investors they represent".

DoL's media release (19 March 2015)
(Source: DoL; Cornell University Law School)

Published in Consumer Protection

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that AMP Ltd subsidiary Australian Financial Planning Solutions Pty Ltd has been fined (12 January 2015) A$10,200 for making false or misleading representations in an article that appeared on its website in 2014.

According to ASIC, the article, which was titled "Benefits of a self-managed super fund":

  • "contained misleading and unsubstantiated claims that major retail and industry superannuation funds will experience payout difficulties"; and
  • "misrepresented the taxation implications of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), by giving the impression that certain tax benefits only apply to SMSFs, when they actually apply to most superannuation funds".

ASIC's media release (12 March 2015)
(Source: ASIC)

Published in Consumer Protection

New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has announced that Selling Source (MoneyMutual) has been penalised US$2.1 million for marketing "illegal, online payday loans" to consumers.

According to NYDFS, Money Mutual:

  • used celebrity endorser Montel Williams to market loans to consumers with interest rates "sometimes in excess of [1,300%]";
  • targeted customers who were "repeat clients", including those who had taken out a new loan to pay off an already existing loan;
  • "sold 'leads' with the personal information of approximately 800,000 ... consumers; and
  • "failed to adequately warn consumers that the interest rates, charges, and repayment schedules offered by 'its network of trusted lenders' often prevented customers from being able to repay those loans on a timely basis, and caused them to roll over their loans or take out additional loans to pay off prior loans".

NYDFS's media release (10 March 2015)
(Source: NYDFS)

Published in Consumer Protection

Banks Fined for Potentially Misleading Advertising

18 Sep 2014
Written by World Watch

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it has fined the following financial services providers for making potentially misleading representations to consumers:

Published in Consumer Protection

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) has released the press brief Facebook, Twitter & YouTube - What are you doing about Violence Against Women? (August 2014) which sets out APC-developed research into the corporate policies of the global social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to "analyse each platform's mechanism for identifying, reporting and rectifying incidents of harassment or [violence against women]".

Published in Consumer Protection

The Federal Court of Australia (FCA) has handed down its judgment in Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Safe Breast Imaging Pty Ltd (No 2) [2014] FCA 998 (16 September 2014). According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the FCA has fined Safe Breast Imaging Pty Ltd (SBI) and its sole director Joanne Firth A$200,000 and A$20,000 respectively in relation to false representations made by SBI in breach of Schedule 2 (The Australian Consumer Law) to the Competition and Consumer Act (2010) 1974 No. 51 (Cth).

Published in Consumer Protection

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that Google has agreed (undated) to settle charges (undated) relating to its billing of consumers via mobile apps downloaded from Google's Play store for Android mobile devices.

Published in Consumer Protection

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that the following pesticide companies that share a common owner have agreed to pay a total of US$74,513 in penalties to "settle allegations related to the production and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides":

The United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that it has fined (27 August 2014) The Royal Bank of Scotland and National Westminster Bank £14,474,600 for "serious failings in their advised mortgage sales business".

Published in Consumer Protection

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it has accepted an enforceable undertaking (18 August 2014) under the Competition and Consumer Act (2010) 1974 No. 51 (Cth) from Maggie Beer Products Pty Ltd (Maggie Beer), in relation to various allegedly misleading place of origin representations that it made on the labelling of its products, to the public, and in correspondence with retailer Woolworths.

Published in Consumer Protection
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