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Articles Posted in Broker-Dealers

Coastal Equities Has Been The Subject of $3M in Investor Arbitration Claims

Coastal Equities, a mid-sized broker-dealer, recently arrived at a settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in which it agreed to give $280K in restitution to several customers. The firm is accused of failing to reasonably supervise one of its registered representatives, who recommended trades that were allegedly excessive and unsuitable. Those who were harmed were retirees and senior investors.

It was just last year that Coastal Equities said in its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that investors had submitted $3M in arbitration claims against the firm. 

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Accuses Bank of Inadequate Internal Controls  

JPMorgan Chase Bank has been ordered to pay a $250M penalty. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) contends that the bank engaged in “unsafe and unsound practices” related to its internal controls and an internal audit of fiduciary duties. 

With fiduciary assets of $29.1 trillion, JPMorgan has one of the biggest and complex fiduciary businesses. It offers many types of investment strategies via different investment vehicles to its clients. The Bank is not denying or admitting to the agency’s findings.

Morgan Stanley Fires Financial Advisors After Inherited Account Credits Investigation

Morgan Stanley (MS) announced recently that it has terminated a number of financial advisors after a months-long investigation into payments being made to retired Morgan Stanley financial advisors under Morgan Stanley’s own Legacy Account Payments Program. 

Morgan Stanley’s “sunset plan” allows brokers who are retiring from the firm to split fees and commissions with brokers who inherit the retiring broker’s accounts.  

Colorado Investment Firm Fined $200K For Investing Unqualified Buyers Into Unsuitable Investments 

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered First Western Capital Management Co. to pay a $200K fine over allegations that, over a 7-year period, it invested over $666M of clients’ funds into securities that they didn’t qualify for. As a result, 81 clients were placed in securities that were reserved for qualified institutional buyers (QIBs), which are investors that have at least $100M in assets.

The firm is a Denver-based investment adviser. Our Colorado investment fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas are offering free case consultations to customers that were harmed by these unsuitable investment recommendations and sales that the SEC says were initiated by at least nine of First Western’s investment adviser representatives. Contact us today at (720) 439-2827

Galvin’s Office Files Civil Lawsuit Alleging Overconcentration, Unsuitable Investments 

William Galvin, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has filed civil charges against former NEXT Financial Group broker, Charles Chester Kulch. 

The state is accusing him of selling real estate investment trusts (REITs) and variable annuities (VA) to customers for whom they were unsuitable and overconcentrating their portfolios in these high risk, illiquid investments.

Former Financial Representative Is Facing Criminal Trial for Annuity Fraud 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined Northwestern Mutual Investment Services $350K for failing to properly supervise former stockbroker, Sampson Pearson, which enabled him to defraud customers of $570K. Northwestern Mutual Investment Services is the brokerage arm of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Pearson, who was barred by the self-regulatory organization (SRO) in 2017, is charged in federal court with aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns. According to his BrokerCheck record, he is named in 13 disclosures, including 11 customer disputes. 

Another National Securities Broker Is Accused of Making Inappropriate Recommendations 

Frank Avallone, a National Securities broker since 2015,  is currently the subject of two pending customer complaints accusing him of making unsuitable investment recommendations that resulted in six-figure losses for each claimant. He is not the only registered representative from this firm accused of suitability issues.

Unsuitable investments are any recommendation that is inappropriate for the investor. Such a recommendation is contrary to a broker’s duty to only make investment recommendations that are appropriate for the customer as it pertains to their age, financial resources, investing experience, and risk tolerance level. 

FINRA Says SagePoint Financial Brokers Unsuitably Recommended Early UIT Rollovers 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is ordering SagePoint Financial to pay over $1.6M in fines and restitution after it executed over $895 million in unit investment trust (UIT) transactions that resulted in more than $17.2 million in sales charges. 

Of these UIT transactions, over $203.7 million of the proceeds were from sales that occurred over 100 days before a UIT’s maturity date. FINRA found that these unsuitable early rollovers caused customers to pay over $1.3 million in sales charges that they wouldn’t have otherwise if only they’d held onto their UITs until they matured.

FINRA Accuses SunTrust Investment Services of Failing to Properly Supervise Brokers

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has ordered SunTrust to pay $634K to settle charges accusing the broker-dealer of not properly supervising 17 of its brokers when they recommended that customers hold non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for long periods–a practice that can lead to losses especially when there is market volatility. 

Of this settlement, $50K is a fine and $584,466 is restitution. SunTrust Investment Services, which is owned by Trust Bank, agreed to the sanctions but without denying or admitting to the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) findings. 

Broker-Dealer Allegedly Misled Novice Investor And Placed Funds In Risky Junk Bonds 

FMS Bonds, formerly called First Miami Securities, is the subject of yet another investor fraud lawsuit. This time it’s for misleading an inexperienced bond investor from the Dallas, Texas area and causing him to overconcentrate his portfolio with low rated, long-term “junk” bonds and other bad bonds, including those issued by Frontier Communications. The account eventually blew up, causing the claimant to suffer approximately $1M in losses. 

Our Texas investor lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are representing this investor in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration to recover these losses. The hearing will take place in the Dallas area.

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