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Manulife to pay $11.7-million in OSC settlement over overcharging investors

The Manulife Financial headquarters in Toronto, August 29, 2012.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

Manulife Securities has agreed to repay clients $11.7-million for overpayment of fees as part of a settlement that was approved Thursday by the Ontario Securities Commission.

This was the latest in a long list of similar so-called "no-contest" agreements between the regulator and investment dealers in Canada over fees.

Earlier in the week, the OSC alleged that Manulife overcharged some mutual fund clients and certain investors in fee-based accounts over a period that stretched back more than a decade. Manulife's oversight and supervision was inadequate, according to the OSC.

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Manulife has also agreed to pay $495,000 in recognition of the OSC's mandate to protect investors and contribute $25,000 in costs for the regulator's investigation.

As part of the agreement, Manulife neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

"Regular vigilance is required to safeguard client accounts from errors and inattention," Jeff Kehoe, director of enforcement at the OSC, said in a release.

"Clients have the right to expect robust compliance systems and controls to protect against excess fees."

This was the 9th no-contest settlement between the OSC and Canadian financial insitutions. To date, $354-million has been returned to investors.

Last month, Royal Bank of Canada agreed to pay $21.8-million to compensate clients for overcharging fees.

With a file from Christina Pellegrini

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