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Articles Posted in Broker-Dealers

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.

Brokerage Firm Made Unsuitable Investment Recommendations to An Inexperienced Investor

Our brokerage firm fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) have filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration against Morgan Stanley on behalf of an elderly Dallas, Texas investor.

The investor in question sustained over $500K in losses due to the unsuitable recommendations of structured products, Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs), other oil and gas equities, and investments governed by Harvest Volatility Management’s Collateral Yield Enhancement Strategy (CYES). 

ETF Investors Of United States Oil Fund May Not Have Known Full Extent Of Risks

Our investment fraud lawyers are offering free case consultations to investors who’ve lost money in the United States Oil Fund (USO) after it dropped 30%. The exchange-traded security continues to make changes to its structure in an attempt to stave off more losses. Part of this now involves giving itself the leeway to get into long-term contracts. The USO exchange-traded fund (ETF), which keeps track of oil prices, is popular among retail investors. 

Unfortunately, many of these investors think they are betting on oil prices’ long-term rise and do not fully comprehend how the futures market operates or that these types of funds hold primarily short-dated oil futures contracts and should never be held long-term. 

LPL Blocks Sales of Nontraded Real Estate Investment Trusts and Publicly Traded Property Interval Funds 

This week, LPL Financial (LPLA) announced that it had suspended its sales of several nontraded REITs, as well as a number of publicly traded property interval funds. This is because the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was placing these investments at a higher risk of losses. 

In an email to InvestmentNews, LPL EVP of Products and Platforms, Rob Pettman, wouldn’t offer the names of the funds but did note that the broker-dealer hoped to offer them to investors again once the markets had calmed.

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