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Ex-brokers say NationsBank misled buyers of securities


NEW YORK -- Three former NationsBank Corp. brokers in Florida have filed an arbitration claim against the company's brokerage units, alleging use of misleading sales practices.

The three allege they were forced out of their jobs after objecting to the sales practices, which they say deceptively touted securities as safer bank products. They are seeking a total of $560 million in damages on their claims.

Charlotte, N.C.-based NationsBank, the fifth-biggest bank company in the country, didn't respond to a request for comment yesterday.

One of the three brokers, David Cray of Largo, Fla., sued the parent company last month on similar allegations.

"These practices cannot be blamed on one or two rogue individuals, but were and are systemic practices . . . to trick risk-averse bank customers," according to the claim, which was filed Wednesday with the National Association of Securities Dealers in New York.

The claim said the NationsBanc Discount Brokerage and NationsSecurities units led customers to believe falsely that the securities purchased were protected by the parent company's banks or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The firms, which are the only defendants, also gave cash incentives to bank employees to steer customers to NationsBanc Discount Brokerage and NationsSecurities, and cash incentives to brokerage employees to sell only the company's proprietary investment products, the claim said.

NationsBank, in a prepared statement last month, denied any deceptive practices or policies.

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