The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred three brokers in separate, unrelated cases for alleged misconduct. They are ex-Morgan Stanley (MS) representative Thomas Alain Meier, ex-Fortune Financial broker Michael Giokas, and ex-Northwestern Mutual broker Michael Cochran.
Former Morgan Stanley broker Thomas Alan Meier is accused of making unauthorized trades in customer accounts. In the self-regulatory organization’s letter of acceptance, waiver, and consent, FINRA stated that from 7/2012 through 3/2016, Meier “effected” over 1000 transactions that were not authorized in six customers’ accounts. His allegedly unauthorized transactions involved discretion without written permission or the accounts garnering discretionary acceptance and impacted four clients.
Between 4/2016 and 10/2017, Morgan Stanley submitted 21 amended Forms U5 for Meier. The forms showed that 14 customer complaints were filed against Meier, including two arbitration cases. AdvisorHub reports that because of Meier’s alleged misconduct, customers sustained $818K in losses and over $2M in unrealized losses. To date, the brokerage firm has paid customers about $2.5M in settlements and resolved 13 of the claims.
Meier left Morgan Stanley in 2016. He previously worked at other firms, including Merrill Lynch, Prudential Securities, and Smith Barney.
Former Fortune Financial Broker Was Arrested for Investor Fraud
In another case resulting in a FINRA bar, Michael Giokas, an ex-Fortune Financial broker, has been barred by the SRO for not providing information related to his arrest for fraud last year. According to The Buffalo News, Giokas faces criminal charges related to the theft of $200K from a client while misrepresenting to the latter that the money would be invested so as to yield returns of 8-9%. The newspaper said that Giokas is accused of spending the investor’s money on himself.
Giokas handed in his notice to Fortune Financial prior to his arrest. He worked at six other firms previous to Fortune, including Cigna Securities.
Former Northwestern Mutual Representative is Accused of Pretending to Be His Customers
In a third FINRA case, the regulator barred ex-Northwestern Mutual representative Matthew Cochran over allegations that he impersonated customers and set up online accounts at TD Ameritrade (AMTD). Cochran and his father are accused of, from 11/2015 through 2/2017, exercising their discretion to make 5,931 transactions in 94 TD Ameritrade accounts for investors. The transactions’ aggregate value was over $9.6M. Cochran was the one who set up these accounts for 98 customers and he did so without notifying either firm.
According to FINRA, Cochran and his dad retained the user names and passwords of customers and used this data to access securities after the ex-Northwestern Mutual broker was given verbal discretion but not written discretion. Cochran is also accused of pretending to be certain account holders during several phone calls to the executing firm in which he instructed that positions be liquidated. Meantime, Cochran was paid $34K for the activities involving his TD Ameritrade customers.
Cochran has since admitted to selling away from a firm, taking part in private securities transactions, gathering and keeping confidential information on a spreadsheet that was not secure, and getting around supervision of the activities at issue by “avoiding documentation.” Cochran was allowed to resign from the firm after he acknowledged that he’d engaged in wrongdoing.
At Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP, our broker fraud lawyers are here to help investors in recouping their securities fraud losses. If you are an investor who was represented by Matthew Cochran, Michael Giokas, or Thomas Alain Meier and you sustained significant investment losses, contact our stockbroker fraud law firm today.
Finra Bars Morgan Stanley Broker Who Has Cost Firm $2.5 Million…and Counting, AdvisorHub, March 20, 2018
Finra bars former Northwestern rep for impersonating customers, InvestmentNews, March 21, 2018
Finra bars former Fortune Financial rep over document denial, InvestmentNews, March 23, 2018
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