Zamansky LLC, a leading securities arbitration firm, has commenced an investigation of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. (”Merrill Lynch”) over its sales of 529 NextGen College Investing Plan (”NextGen 529 Plan”) from June 2002 through February 2007 to investors and account-holders. In January 2011, Merrill Lynch settled with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (”FINRA”) and agreed to a censure and fine of $500,000 for the brokerage firm’s failure to have adequate supervisory systems and procedures in place with regard to sales of its NextGen 529 Plans.
Merrill Lynch’s NextGen 529 Plan is sponsored by the State of Maine and investors who contributed were eligible for tax deductions if they were Maine residents only. Residents in states other than Maine were eligible for local state tax deductions for contributions made to their own local state 529 plans. Investors who invested in Merrill Lynch’s NextGen 529 Plan may not have been advised of the eligibility and/or benefits of local state tax deductions if they contributed under their local state plan and resided outside of Maine. FINRA alleged that Merrill Lynch failed to ensure that its financial advisors were taking into account state tax benefits when determining suitability and advising customers about investing in its NextGen 529 Plan, and it failed to have sufficient supervisory systems and procedures in place.
FINRA is requiring that Merrill Lynch send a letter to customers to notify them of this settlement, and extend an offer to roll their 529 plans over into a local state plan with no fees or charges. No compensation is offered to investors outside of Maine who lost out on local state tax benefits on their 529 plan contributions or whowere given unsuitable recommendations or advice.
If you were an investor who contributed to a Merrill Lynch NextGen 529 Plan from June 2002 to February 2007 and who resided outside of Maine, and would like to discuss your rights, please contact Jake Zamansky at 212 742-1414 or
Zamansky LLC is a leading securities arbitration and litigation firm.