Articles Posted in Broker-Dealers

An investor in GPB Capital has filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Claim against Arkadios Capital and one of its brokers over losses she sustained to her IRA after she followed the financial adviser’s recommendation to invest in GPB Capital Holdings.

Now she is claiming retirement fund losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our investor fraud law firm, Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) is representing the investor, who hails from the greater Atlanta area, and we have filed a FINRA arbitration claim on her behalf.

GPB Capital Holdings is an alternative asset management firm whose private placement funds are primarily invested in auto dealerships and waste management. The firm is under scrutiny by FINRA, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, and the FBI over its private placements that were sold by dozens of brokerage firms and their brokers.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that Buckman, Buckman & Reid, a New Jersey-based brokerage firm, will pay about $205K in restitution to seven clients to settle claims that it did not reasonably supervise two ex-registered representatives accused of recommending “excessive and unsuitable trades.” The self-regulatory authority (SRO) has already barred both former brokers from the industry.

Also dealing with sanctions are Buckman Senior VP and owner Harry John Buckman, Jr., who supervised the two former brokers. Mr. Buckman was suspended for three months, ordered to pay a $20K fine, and must fulfill continuing education hours related to fulfilling supervisory duties.

FINRA said that the brokerage firm and Buckman neglected to identify when one of the ex-representatives was taking part in short-term Unit Investment Trust (UIT) trading on a frequent basis, as well as engaging in “other long-term investments” that charged customers substantial, upfront expenses. As a result, between ’13 to ’14 Buckman customers that were harmed ended up paying about $201K in commissions while sustaining approximately $163K in losses. Meantime, although there were red flags indicating “potentially excessive trading” by this former broker, the firm is accused of not reviewing these warnings.

According to the Texas State Securities Board, target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>LPL Financial (LPLA) will pay a $450K fine and buy back unregistered securities. The Consent Order noted that the settlement is part of the wider $26M one reached between the brokerage firm and state securities regulators in 2018.

In its deal with Texas, LPL agreed to buy back unregistered securities that it sold to investors in the state going as far back as Oct 1, 2006. LPL will pay “3% interest per year on the value of the securities either in damages if they were sold or by repurchasing the investments.” Similar terms were part of the wider agreement offered to all US states and territories regarding how to compensate investors who were sold unregistered stocks and fixed-income securities.

In January, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced his state’s settlement with LPL, which involved buying back these same types of securities, along with 3% simple interest annually, from investors. Aside from its restitution and rescission offers to Maryland investors, the brokerage firm agreed to pay a $499K civil penalty.

Jose G. Ramirez-Arone Jr., who formerly worked as a broker for UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico (UBS-PR), has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for defrauding investors. Ramirez-Arone, also called Jose Ramirez and known by many on the island of Puerto Rico as “The Whopper,” pleaded guilty to bank fraud last year.

Ramirez admitted that he made more than $1.2 million in improper commissions by persuading clients to inappropriately invest in UBS Puerto Rico Bond Funds. More specifically, Ramirez admitted to participating in a scheme where he advised his clients to borrow money against their investments from a credit line at UBS Bank and then to use that borrowed money to buy more UBS Puerto Rico Bond Funds. This use of “non-purpose” loans to buy securities was strictly prohibited.

Unfortunately, in addition to being a prohibited transaction, this type of investing – where leverage is used to buy an already leveraged investment product – is unsuitable for most investors. The vast majority, if not all, of these investors were ill-equipped and unable to handle the risks involved, which they are now claiming were misrepresented or not fully disclosed to them. When Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds plunged in value in 2013, many UBS clients ended up having to sell their investments because they lacked the assets to satisfy maintenance calls on their accounts, resulting in massive losses for some.

The Jamieson family has filed a broker-dealer fraud lawsuit against target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Securities America. They are seeking $18M in damages related to the actions of one of the firm’s former brokers, Hector A. May, who late last year pleaded guilty to operating an $11M Ponzi scheme that went on for years. May now faces 25 years in prison. Securities America fired him last year in the wake of the fraud allegations against him.

Last month, the Jamieson family sued May and Securities America. They claim that they lost $18M from working with May, who had been their adviser since 2001. The family contends that the former Securities America broker and his daughter Vania May Bell stole millions of dollars from them. In addition to working as a Securities America broker, May also was president and CCO of Executive Compensation Planners Inc. (ECP), which is no longer in operation. Bell served as ECP’s controller.

The plaintiffs contend that May and Bell advised them in a manner that made it possible for the two of them to keep defrauding the family. The Jamiesons are accusing Securities America of not performing its duties by:

If you are an investor in NorthStar Healthcare Income, you very likely received a letter last month notifying you that monthly distributions from this investment have been suspended. According to NorthStar’s board, the publicly registered nontraded real estate investment trust’s (nontraded REIT) portfolio has been undergoing “operational and performance challenges” that as of the end of June 2017 has resulted in a “lower estimated value/share” of the NorthStar Healthcare’s common stock. The nontraded REIT has since determined that in order to protect both capital and its financial state, suspension of these distribution payments is necessary.

The NorthStar Healthcare Inc. nontraded REIT was set up to originate, acquire, and oversee healthcare industry-related investments, including debt, equity, and securities investments involving healthcare real estate. Sources note that between 2013 and 2018, it raised about $2B and set up a portfolio involving more than 650 properties.

However, NorthStar Healthcare Income began reducing distribution rates in December 2017. By October of last year, it had notified investors that it would only buy back shares from an investor if qualifying disability or death were factors. In December 2018, the nontraded REIT reduced its net asset value from $8.50/share to $7.10/share. Now, with the distribution suspension, some investors are standing to lose not just their monthly distributions, but also they could see a substantial decline in value on their principal that they originally invested.

According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Wedbush Securities has settled allegations accusing the brokerage firm of failing to supervise one of its former registered representatives, Timary Delorme, who is accused of engaging in a pump-and-dump fraud that harmed retail investors. As part of the settlement, Wedbush consented to a censure and will pay a $250K penalty.

The SEC filed this civil securities case against Wedbush a year ago, accusing the broker-dealer of not properly investigating red flags indicating that Delorme might have been defrauding investors. The former Wedbush broker is accused of, from 2008 to 2014, receiving payments, which were issued to her husband,  in exchange for recommending to investors that they make certain trades that were then used in the pump-and-dump fraud.

The regulator said that Wedbush even disregarded an email from a customer reporting the fraud, as well as a number of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrations claims and inquiries over Delorme’s trading activities involving penny stocks. Instead, contends the Commission, Wedbush performed two inadequate probes into the allegations against its former broker but didn’t take proper action.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office has fined United Planners Financial Services of America $100K for failing to properly supervise broker Thomas T. Riquier. The broker was charged last year for violating the state’s securities laws over his alleged involvement in a real estate scam that defrauded investors and others of at least $1M over 26 years.

According to the state regulator’s consent order, at one point Riquier, who is president of The Retirement Financial Center, oversaw 1,771 accounts for about 400 clients and generated more than $1.2M for United Planners, including over $500K in advisory fees. The state regulator charged Riquier, who is no longer a registered broker or investment adviser, last year with violating the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act.

Investors of a limited partnership known as the Rowley Land Appreciation Fund Limited Partnership (The Rowley Fund) contend that Riquier told them that the property he was purchasing on their behalf would be sold for profit. Instead, he allegedly used their money to buy property that already belonged to him. Investors have yet to see any return on this property. Last year, The Salem News reported that according to investigators, Riquier made about $730K from his investor fraud.

Daniel Todd Levine, a former Morgan Stanley (MS) broker, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority after he failed to cooperate in a probe into allegations that he may have taken part in outside business activities that he did not disclose to the broker-dealer while he worked for the firm. Levine was a Morgan Stanley broker based in Denver, Colorado between 2013 and July 2018 when he stepped down. His next employer was First Financial Equity Corp., but that brokerage firm fired him a few weeks later after he did not notify them about the FINRA investigation.

According to Levine’s BrokerCheck record, he previously worked with Prudential Securities, Merrill Lynch, and UBS (UBS). He was employed in the securities industry for over 20 years.

A number of other former Morgan Stanley brokers have recently made news headlines over allegations of broker fraud. Last month, FINRA announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Ami Forte, who is accused of making unauthorized trades in the account of now deceased Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy M. Speer. In November, former Morgan Stanley financial adviser James Polese was sentenced to five years behind bars after pleading guilty to defrauding customers of over $1M.

Next Financial Group Inc. will be purchased by Atria Solutions. The Houston-based independent broker-dealer is the fourth brokerage firm that Atria, which is located in Dallas, has acquired since 2017. The other brokerage firms are Cadaret Grant & Co., Cusco Financial Services, and Sorrento Pacific Financial.

Next Financial currently has almost 540 advisers and representatives and nearly $13B in assets under management. According to InvestmentNews, Under the Next Financial deal, Atria will acquire the broker-dealer and its related companies. Following the acquisition, Atria will work with almost 2,000 advisers with about $65B in assets under administration.

Next Financial’s BrokerCheck record shows 19 disclosure events that have been settled, usually without the firm admitting to or denying the findings, for various causes, including:

Contact Information