Two brokers at a Beverly Hills office of Bank of America's Merrill Lynch must collectively return more than $6.6m in signing bonuses to Barclays Capital for leaving the firm's U.S. broker unit after working only three-and-a-half months, a regulatory panel has ruled.
Reuters reports that Matthew Celenza was ordered by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel on Friday to pay $5.1 million representing principal on a note he signed when joining Barclays in March 2012, plus almost $140,000 in interest.
Lawrence DiGioia, Celenza's partner, was ordered to pay $1.51 million on the principal part of his note and just over $41,426 in interest.
The arbitrators did not explain their decision, as is typical in FINRA rulings, but denied the brokers' counterclaims asserting fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract to justify keeping the loans.
The arbitration panel denied Barclays' effort to require the brokers to pay its attorneys' fees.
'Barclays asked for more than $1 million and got zero, so the panel obviously thought something was amiss,' said Jeff Riffer, a lawyer at Elkins, Kalt, Weintraub, Reuben Gartside who represented Celenza and DiGioia.
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