Regions to pay $1 million penalty

MIAMI (AP) - Regions Bank has agreed to pay a $1 million penalty to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint that it had a role in a fraud targeting thousands of Latin American investors.

The SEC claimed in court papers Monday that the Birmingham, Ala.-based bank served as trustee for two investment plans that charged investors huge hidden fees. Regions Bank's involvement gave the scheme an air of legitimacy, according to the SEC.

Ultimately more than $255 million was raised by the investment plans from about 14,000 investors from Latin American countries.

Regions Bank said it cooperated with the SEC and worked to resolve the issue. The arrangement was begun in 2001 by Union Planters Bank, which merged with Regions in 2004.

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