Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., an investment brokerage owned by Regions Financial Corp., has announced a $200 million settlement in relation to charges of consumer fraud stemming from investments tied to the mortgage bond market. The company has been battling numerous lawsuits brought on behalf of clients that allege Morgan Keegan falsely represented proprietary mutual funds as “low risk” investments when they were actually tied to the volatile mortgage market.
According to a report in the Memphis Daily News, more than 300,000 investors lost over a billion dollars when the subprime mortgage meltdown drained the funds seemingly overnight. Morgan Keegan has been plagued with litigation and arbitration claims from investors throughout the country. The bulk of arbitration claims reviewed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) have gone in favor of the investors.
The settlement will include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FINRA and the states that participated in the civil fraud investigation into Morgan Keegan investment firm – Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Funds will be distributed to investors who lost money after an administrator identifies and evaluates their claims. The funds will be available to investors in any state, not only the five who participated in the settlement.
On the heels of the settlement announcement, the head of Regions Financial Corp. announced the company would begin to look at options for its investment portfolio, which may include the sale of the Morgan Keegan investment arm.