$14M Award to Brokers Fired For Market-Timing Upheld

Rejecting Merrill Lynch’s requests to throw out the award, a federal judge upheld a $14 million award to three former Merrill Lynch brokers fired over allegations of improper market timing in their mutual fund trading activities.

A New York Stock Exchange arbitration panel had granted the award to the three Merrill ex-brokers, Christopher Chung, William Savino and Kevin Brunnock, known as the CBS group. The three, who worked at Merrill’s Fort Lee, New Jersey, branch, were fired in October 2003 for allegedly engaging in market-timing. They claimed they were made scapegoats by Merrill, which fired them at a time when regulatory scrutiny over improper mutual-fund trading practices was high on Wall Street, the news report said.

“An arbitration award may be vacated only if procured by corruption or fraud, if the arbitrators exhibited evident partiality, were guilty of misconduct or exceeded their power,” U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska wrote in his decision, according to the Journal. “Because none of these exceptions to confirmation has been established, the court must confirm the award.”

Most of the award – $12.5 million – was for “lost income and pain and suffering” from Merrill’s action against the trio. The rest was for terminating the brokers’ contract without cause and legal fees, the news report said.