A FINRA panel announced Thursday that Stifel, Nicolaus & Co must pay Wells Fargo Advisors $167,000 for improperly recruiting several former AG Edwards financial advisors.

Wells Fargo initially sought $36 million for the improper recruiting.

Wells alleged that Stifel "systematically acquired, on a national scale" advisers, managers, support staff and clients from Wachovia Securities, which Wells acquired.

FINRA panel chairman Frank Romano wrote in a dissent that the entire case should be rejected. He concluded that Wells shouldn’t have received any award.

The decision, originally reported by Reuters, is part of a case that began when Wachovia Corp's bought AG Edwards in 2007. Wachovia, which agreed to move brokerage business to St. Louis from Charlotte, as part of the deal, was bought by Wells in 2008.

Many of AG Edwards staff defected to Stifel Nicolaus when Wachovia bought AG Edwards. Wachovia responded ith several arbitration cases, most of which have been resolved in Stifel's favor.
In December 2009, a FINRA panel ordered Wells to pay Stifel $1.1 million in legal costs. In May, another FINRA panel ordered Wells Fargo to pay $633,000 in legal costs for a case of California advisor.

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