UPDATE 1-CNO's Bankers Life fined for unlicensed brokers

Wed Apr 4, 2012 2:18pm EDT

* To pay Maine, three other states $9.9 mln

* Agrees not to hire brokers for three years

* Will surrender brokerage unit's registration

April 4 (Reuters) - Bankers Life and Casualty agreed to pay $9.9 million to settle charges it engaged in unlicensed brokerage activities in a number of states, Maine securities regulators said on Wednesday.

Including reimbursements and fees, the company, a unit of CNO Financial Group, will pay out a total of $10.6 million to the four states that conducted the investigation.

In a statement, Maine's Office of Securities said a branch audit revealed Bankers Life was operating in some states where it was not licensed, by affiliating with licensed brokers and then directing their operations, including steering customers into Bankers Life annuity products.

Maine officials said Bankers Life agreed not to hire, train or supervise any registered representatives or investment advisers for three years.

Banker's Life also agreed to surrender BLCF's brokerage licenses to both the SEC and regulators in Illinois, where the brokerage is based. It also agreed to withdraw from industry oversight body FINRA.

"BLCFS was established in 2002 and appropriately registered in Illinois under a structure now deemed inappropriate by the regulators, and as a result, BLCFS will be eliminated," a CNO spokeswoman said in a statement. "The steps taken in this settlement should ensure additional clarity between the roles of agents and financial advisers."

Besides Maine, the other investigating states were New Hampshire, Vermont and Missouri.

The 133-year-old Bankers Life is perhaps best known for its former chief executive, John D. MacArthur, who was once one of the richest men in America and whose charitable foundation remains one of the country's largest.

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