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FINRA fines Prudential Annuities Distributors for failure to prevent $1.3M theft from customer account

PrudentialAnnuities Distributors Inc. agreed to pay FINRA a $950,000 fine forlacking supervisory procedures and failing to prevent the theft ofapproximately $1.3 million from an 89-year-old customer's variable annuityaccount.

The regulator said the Prudential Financial Inc. unit did not respond towarning signs when Travis Wetzel – a former registered sales assistant atLPL Financial HoldingsInc. who was barred from the securities industry by FINRA in 2013–  allegedly submitted 114 forged annuitywithdrawal requests and asked the company to wire funds from the customer'saccount to a third-party account in the maiden name of his wife. Wetzel is nowa convicted felon. The requests triggered alerts, but the company determinedthat the withdrawals were legitimate.

Prudential Annuities Distributors did not admit or deny thecharges, but it consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.