Articles Posted in Churning

For alleged supervisory failures and excessive trading by one of its former brokers, Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. has been ordered to pay over $880K– $558K in restitution with interest to customers that were harmed,  as well as a $325K fine to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The broker-dealer consented to the entry of the findings but did not admit to or deny wrongdoing.

According to the SRO, from 1/2012 to 3/2017, Summit neglected to review certain automated alerts for the trading activities of its registered representatives, of which there are more than 700. Because of this, one of its brokers, was able to excessively trade in accounts belonging to 14 clients, including 533 trades on behalf of one customer. This compelled her to pay over $171K in commissions.

The broker’s excessive trading resulted in 150 alerts for this type of activity, none of which were purportedly reviewed by Summit. FINRA has since barred the former registered rep.

Jovannie Aquino, a former Windsor Street Capital broker, is now barred by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Aquino was charged by the regulator last year with allegedly churning in clients’ accounts. The Commission is accusing Aquino of engaging in acts of fraud and omissions that caused customers to lose about $881K, even as he made $935K in commissions.

The SEC, in its complaint, accused the ex-Windsor Street Capital broker of excessive trading in retail customers’ accounts. The regulator said that Aquino allegedly convinced at least seven customers to maintain trading accounts at Windsor and told them he would engage in a trading strategy that would cause them to make money. He suggested frequent, short-term trades and charging fees and commission for each transaction.

The Commission said that because of how often the trading took place, along with the fees and commissions that the clients were charged, from the start they stood to lose money rather than make a profit. This means that Aquino didn’t have reasonable grounds for thinking that his trading strategy would be suitable for the customers despite the fact that suitability for recommending an investment is a requirement. Not only that, but also, for six of the investors who were harmed, the trading levels employed were entirely unsuitable for them in light of their investment goals, financial needs, the level of risk that they could handle, and other specifics.

David Strnad, a longtime broker, has been suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for 18 months. According to his BrokerCheck record, in 2016, the daughter of a client accused Strnad of churning in her father’s account while he was a registered Morgan Stanley representative. Following the allegations, FINRA opened a probe into the matter.

The self-regulatory authority (FINRA) found that Strnad made over 270 trades involving CDs in the account of one elderly customer between 2013 and 2015. While the client had given the former Morgan Stanley broker permission to purchase the CDs, Strnad allegedly exceeded the authority granted to him when he sold the CDs before they matured and used the money made from those transactions to purchase more CDs for the client.

As a result, said FINRA, the client ended up paying nearly $4300 commissions that were not warranted. Morgan Stanley has since paid that money back to the client.

The Financial Industry Regulatory (FINRA) announced that it is barring former Aegis Capital broker James Schwartz for allegedly churning four clients’ accounts. The self-regulatory authority (SRO) contends that Schwartz, who is no longer employed in the securities industry, made 256 trades in these accounts without first getting the customers’ permission to execute the transactions. Along with other trades he made in these accounts—535 trades in total—the customers ended up collectively losing over $660K.

FINRA’s BrokerCheck record on its case against Schwartz said that he engaged in about $10M worth of unauthorized trades. Some trades were also allegedly excessive.

The SRO said that Schwartz earned commissions and gross sales credits of $277,705 from these fraudulent transactions, more than $194,000 of which was paid to the former Aegis Capital broker.

Legend Securities Ordered to Pay Client For Churning His Funds 

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel has awarded Herbert W. Voss $1.075M in his securities fraud case against Legend Securities Inc., its ex-chief compliance officer Frank Philip Fusco, and former Legend broker Danard Warthen Brown. Legend is no longer in operation and was expelled by the self-regulatory authority (SRO) in 2012.

Voss reportedly lost $375,000 while Legend was his brokerage firm. Of the more than $1M award granted to Voss, $700K is for punitive damages. His securities fraud lawyer contends that punitive damages were warranted because of how much turnover took place in Voss’s account.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against former Alexander Capital brokers who are accused of making unsuitable recommendations that garnered them commissions while causing investors to sustain significant losses. All three men, Rocco Roveccio, William Gennity, and Laurence Torres, are based in New York.

Because there are costs associated with each transaction for the customer, the security’s price has to go up significantly during the short time it is in an account for even the smallest profit to be made. Instead, eleven customers lost $683K while the NY brokers made $280K and $206K, respectively, in fees and commissions. Some of the investors they bilked had little education and/or were inexperienced investors. In the SEC’s complaint against Gennity and Roveccio, the brokers are accused of recommending investments that required the “frequent buying and selling of securities” despite a lack of reasonable grounds to think that this would make money for their customers.

The two men allegedly engaged in churning in customers’ accounts, unauthorized trading, and hiding material information from them, including that the transaction expenses (markups, commissions, markdowns, fees, postage, and margin interest ) for the investment recommendations would most likely exceed any possible profits.

Continue Reading ›

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is charging two brokers with securities fraud. The regulator claims that Donald J. Fowler and Gregory T. Dean fraudulently employed an in-and-out trading strategy that was not suitable for customers so that they could make more in commissions. Because of their actions, 27 customers alleged lost substantial amounts of money. Fowler and Dean are accused of violating the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10-B5.The Commission said that they examine trading patterns involving over two dozen of the brokers’ customer accounts.

The SEC contends that the two men did not engage in any due diligence to figure out whether their investment strategy could help customers obtain even the smallest profit. With their strategy, they engaged in the frequent purchase and sale of securities, which would both take place within a two-week or shorter timeframe. They charged customers a commission for every transaction. Meantime, Fowler and Dean were the only ones who had a chance of making a profit.

SEC Warns Investors to Look Out for Excessive Trading, Churning

Along with its announcement of this securities case, the SEC put out an Investor Alert cautioning the public about churning and excessive trading. In its alert, the regulator warned about red flags that may be signs of these types of fraud, including trading that a customer did not authorize, which is known as unauthorized trading, trading that happens more often than seems reasonable for a customer’s investment objectives and/or the level of risk that the portfolio can handle, and suspicious and/or unusually high fees.

Continue Reading ›

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has filed a securities fraud case against Hank Mark Werner. The self-regulatory organization is accusing the New York broker of churning the account of a 77-year old widow who is blind, and engaging in unsuitable and excessive trading involving her account. FINRA claims that Werner charged the elderly customer over 243K in commissions while he churned her accounts for over three years and caused her to sustain about $184K in losses.

According to FINRA, Werner, who had been the broker of the elderly widow’s husband since 1995, until he passed away four years ago, started aggressively trading her accounts after he died. The SRO claims that Werner did this to earn excessive commissions.

From 10/12 to 10/15, Werner placed more than 700 trades in over 200 securities while charging the elderly customer commission or a markup on every sale and purchase. Because she was seriously debilitated, blind, and needed in-home care, the woman was totally dependent on Werner to let her know how her account was doing.

Continue Reading ›

FINRA Panel Awards Estate Over $34M from Morgan Stanley in the Wake of Churning Allegations
A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel awarded the estate of Home Shopping Network Roy M. Speer over $34M in its case against Morgan Stanley (MS). The panel ruled that the firm, branch manager Terry McCoy, and broker Ami Forte were jointly liable for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, unauthorized trading, constructive fraud, unjust enrichment, and negligent supervision. The alleged negligence would have occurred from 1/09 to 6/12 and involved investments in the financial services and banking sectors.

According to Mrs. Speer’s lawyer, in six of Mr. Speer’s accounts, about 12,000 transactions took place, most of them involving municipal bond trading and corporate trading. Many of these trades were unauthorized.

The arbitrators awarded $32.8M in compensatory damages to Speer’s widow, Lynnda Speer, and $1.5M for the costs involved in the arbitration process. The panel said that Morgan Stanley violated a law in Florida that prohibits the exploitation of vulnerable adults. Mr. Speer had dementia. Forte, who was his broker, is said to have been in a relationship with him.

Former Craig Scott Capital Broker Accused of Elder Financial Fraud
FINRA is accusing broker Edward Beyn of making over $1.7M in commissions and fees by engaging in excessive trading in client accounts while he was a registered representative at Craig Scott Capital. He is now with Rothschild Liberman. Beyn is accused of churning nine accounts of six customers, all of them over the age of 60, from 3/12 through 5/15. They all sustained losses.

Continue Reading ›

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority claims that Caldwell International Securities Corp. engaged in the churning of customer accounts and that this purportedly resulted in $1 million in excess commissions for the firm. The self-regulatory organization says that the alleged violations began in 2011.

According to FINRA, the Texas-based company’s founder Greg Caldwell and supervisors Lennie Freiman and Paul Jacobs decided to ignore that four OSJs (offices of supervisory jurisdiction), three in New York and one in New Jersey, were churning customer accounts and making yearly commission revenues of at least 100% of the customers’ equity.

The regulator said that brokers at the OSJs contacted foreign investors to persuade them to take part in speculative stock and option trading. Even after 15 customers lost $1.1M and paid over $1M in commissions and fees, Caldwell and its supervisors purportedly still did not take any action.

Cost-to-equity ratios in customer accounts are believed to have varied from 18% to over 100%. The firm is also accused of not reporting that it had been the subject over three dozen customer complaints.
Continue Reading ›

Contact Information