Investing

AIG investment advisory unit to pay $40 million to resolve SEC charges

Key Points
  • VALIC Financial Advisors (VFA), a financial services vendor in all but two school districts in Florida, failed to disclose that its parent company paid a for-profit entity owned by Florida K-12 teachers' unions, and failed to disclose it received millions in financial benefits from advisory mutual fund investments that were generally more expensive for clients than other options, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a statement.
  • VFA is part of Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company, which rebranded in 2019 as AIG Retirement Services, according to the SEC's charging documents.
AIG headquarters in New York City.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

An investment advisory unit of American International Group has agreed to pay about $40 million for failing to disclose to teachers and other clients conflicts of interest and practices that generated millions of dollars for the firm, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on Tuesday.

VALIC Financial Advisors (VFA), a financial services vendor in all but two school districts in Florida, failed to disclose that its parent company paid a for-profit entity owned by Florida K-12 teachers' unions, and also failed to disclose it received millions in financial benefits from advisory mutual fund investments, SEC said in a statement.

The AIG subsidiary did not admit or deny the SEC's findings.

An AIG spokesperson said the firm was taking "all necessary steps to ensure a robust program of disclosure improvements and governance enhancements".

VFA failed to disclose to certain teachers that the firm was providing cash and other financial benefits to a company owned by the Florida K-12 teachers' unions from October 2006 to late 2019, according to SEC charging documents.

Three full-time VALIC employees were "deceptively identified" as employees of the teachers' union entity, the regulator said in charging documents. They increased VALIC's access to K-12 teachers, according to the SEC.

VFA earned more than $30 million on the products it sold to Florida K-12 teachers during the time period, SEC said.

The firm has agreed to pay a $20 million penalty and cap advisory fees for teachers at its lowest rate to settle the issue, SEC said.

In separate charges, the regulator said VFA received fees related to the sale of mutual fund products and provided false and misleading disclosures about those financial benefits. The firm agreed to pay back $15.4 million in ill-gotten gains an interest and a civil penalty of $4.5 million.