Citigroup unit to refund $4.5 million in overcharges

More than 15,000 consumers will get a total of more than $4.5 million in refunds of overcharges to their investment accounts under a tentative agreement announced on Wednesday by New York's attorney general.

The arrangement is part of a continuing investigation into Citigroup (C) subsidiary Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (CGMI) that earlier resulted in $16 million in refunds to customers. The issue in this case involved fees being assessed on accounts that should not have been charged or should have been issued rebates of those fees.

Most of the account holders are outside of New York.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office said CGMI assessed fees to customer accounts that were inactive for certain time periods even though no charges should have hit those dormant accounts. CGMI identified the discrepancy as part of an internal review related to the ongoing investigation.

Schneiderman gave a nod to the company for its cooperation, allowing for these additional refunds to be identified.

The state's investigation into CGMI started in 2012 and resulted in the identification of more than 31,000 people who were charged advisory fees higher than they had negotiated. Last October, the company agreed to reimburse those customers.

In addition, CGMI agreed to work with the attorney general and dig deeper into other possible overcharges. So far, the investigation has led to repayments (or planned repayments) of more than $20.5 million to more than 46,000 customers.

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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.