Raymond James is 16th to settle in ARS complaints

Raymond James Financial Services agreed Wednesday to buy back in excess of $25 million worth of auction rate securities from Colorado investors in a settlement with the Colorado Division of Securities.

The firm was accused of allowing salespeople to tell investors that the auction rate securities were just as liquid as money market accounts, but with slightly higher returns.

In reality, the auction rate securities were highly complex securities, according to a release from the Colorado division. And when the auction rate securities market was frozen in February of 2008 after the market collapse, investors were angry that they couldn’t withdraw their investments.

Investors who believed the money was “highly liquid,” “cash equivalent” and “the same as cash,” as Raymond James associates had told them, suffered significant financial damages when they couldn’t access the money.

Wednesday’s settlement concludes an investigation led by state securities regulators that found that the firm failed to adequately train or supervise some of its associates.

This settlement is the 16th that the Securities Commissioner has finalized. Previous settlements include Deutsche Bank Securities, Citigroup Global Markets, Bank of America Securities, Credit Suisse Securities, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, RBC Capital Markets, UBS Securities, Stifel Nicolaus, Morgan Stanley, E*TRADE Securities and Wachovia Securities.

This investigation was part of a larger state-led effort to address problems in connection with the offer and sale of auction rate securities. The division continues to investigate possible misconduct by other firms.