Articles Posted in Financial Firms

Jason Nelson, an ex-LPL Financial broker (LPLA), is now barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The bar comes after Nelson refused to participate in the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO) probe into his sales activities.

LPL fired Nelson early last year after finding that he misrepresented customer financial information related to annuity sales. Without denying or admitting to FINRA’s findings, Nelson consented to the entry of findings and the bar. He worked nearly 14 years as a formerly registered broker. Previous to working with LPL Financial, Nelson was an Edward Jones broker.

It was just last month that FINRA permanently barred ex-LPL Financial broker Philip John Nalesnik, whom the broker-dealer also fired last year.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel is ordering Morgan Stanley (MS) to pay a claimant $454,813 for retirement fund mismanagement. The claimant is The Carpenter Law Firm Defined Benefit Plan. The Carpenter Law Firm is based in Iowa.

According to the FINRA award, the law firm contends that Morgan Stanley did not put together an investment strategy that was appropriate for its defined benefit plan. This allegedly led to “excessive cash and a concentration” in just one area of the S & P.

InvestmentNews reports that the mismanagement that the Carpenter Law Firm is claiming occurred was first noticed in 2017 when one of the firm’s attorneys became concerned that his retirement portfolio may not have been properly allocated over the past ten years. The lawyer handed his portfolio over to Morgan Stanley broker, Michael Lee Canney, in 2007. Among the concerns was that market-timing had caused the broker to be “out of the market in cash” during both the account’s beginning and end. Also, over half of the portfolio was made up of closed-end funds that were purchased from Morgan Stanley.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has suspended former Securities America broker Michael D. Jackson for six months following allegations that he traded options in one client’s account without telling the brokerage firm. Securities America has since fired Jackson.

According to the self-regulatory authority (SRO), in 2016, the ex-Securities America broker recommended that one customer set up an account at different firm to trade options. The customer followed his instructions. Over several months, Jackson allegedly:

  • Put in orders for over 42 options transactions sets—that’s over 100 orders—in the new account.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel is ordering UBS Financial Services (UBS) and UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico (UBS-PR) to pay investor Jose F. Pastrana $693K, including at least $564,559 in damages, legal fees, and other costs in its Puerto Rico bond fraud case. UBS also must buy back from Pastrana some of the illiquid closed-end funds that he purchased from the firm at what their market price was at the end of July. AdvisorHub says that this amount will total $128K.

Pastrana had accused the broker-dealer of:

  • Negligence

For the third time this month, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority  has announced that it has barred yet another Morgan Stanley (MS) broker. The brokerage firm had fired financial adviser Bruce Plyer in late 2016 in the wake of allegations that he executed trades in a client’s account without authorization. Now, the self-regulatory organization is barring Plyer after he failed to appear and give testimony into FINRA’s probe into the matter.

Plyer has accepted and consented to FINRA’s findings, but he is not admitting to or denying any of them.

After being let go from Morgan Stanley, he was registered for a short time with International Assets Advisory until he left the industry early last year.

HSBC will pay a $765M penalty over claims involving its packaging, marketing, and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities prior to the 2008 economic crisis. According to the US Attorney Bob Troyer, from the beginning HSBC employed a due diligence process that it knew was ineffective, “chose” to place faulty mortgages in deals, and disregarded these problems even as it sold the RMBSs to investors. As a result, contends the US government, investors, including federally-insured financial institutions that bought the HSBC Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities that were backed by faulty loans, sustained “major losses.”

HSBC had touted using a proprietary model that would choose 20% of the riskiest loans for further examination and another 5% that would be randomly chosen. The government, however, claims that the financial firm’s trading desk exerted undue influence on which loans would be securitized and sometimes failed to employ a random sample. Outside vendors then studied the chosen loans.

The US alleges that even when a number of loans were marked as low grade, HSBC “waived” them through or regraded them, and concerns about loans that had defaulted right away were purportedly disregarded. The bank even allegedly continued to buy loans from an originator who was found to likely be providing loans that were fraudulent.

Nearly years after settling two 401K lawsuits for $12 million, participants in Fidelity Investments’ retirement plan are once more suing the firm. The plaintiffs allege that self-dealing cost them money while allowing the financial firm and a number of its affiliated entities to turn a profit.

According to the complaint in Moitoso et al v. FMR LLC et al, Fidelity breached its fiduciary obligation to plan participants by including too many proprietary mutual funds in its $15B 401(K) plan. The plaintiffs claim that compared to 2014 and 2015, there was an increase in in-house funds in the 401(k) plan in 2016: 234 proprietary mutual funds with no non-proprietary funds in the plan, whatsoever.

Fidelity is accused of choosing proprietary investment products to promote its own interests even if they may not have been suitable for plan participants. As a result, contend plaintiffs, compared to the typical 401(k) plan, plan participants have lost $100M more annually because of poor performance and costly fund fees.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred another former Morgan Stanley (MS) broker. John Halsey Buck III consented to the industry bar after he did not provide the information and documents that the self-regulatory organization asked for related to its probe into his alleged involvement in unapproved private securities sales. Buck, who has over 50 years experience in the industry, was let go by the brokerage firm earlier this year.

Morgan Stanley reportedly fired him in the wake of disclosure-related issues, including those involving private investments that did not involve the broker-dealer. According to InvestmentNews, the allegations against Buck have to do with “selling away.” This is a practice that happens when a stockbroker, financial adviser, or a registered representative solicits the sale of or sells securities that his or her brokerage firm does not offer or hold. Broker-dealers usually have a list of approved products that its brokers are allowed to sell to firm clients.

Buck had been with the industry since 1965. Previous to working with Morgan Stanley, he was a registered broker with UBS Financial Services (UBS), Wachovia Securities, Prudential Securities Incorporated, Loeb Partners, and Hornblower, Weeks, Noyes & Trask.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced this week that it is barring three former brokers. They are ex-Morgan Stanley broker (MS) Kevin Smith and former Wells Fargo (WFC) brokers Wilfred Rodriquez Jr. and Thomas A. Davis.

According to the self-regulatory authority’s order, the bar against Smith comes after he wouldn’t appear before FINRA to testify regarding allegations involving a structured products trade in a family member’s trust that he may have executed without checking with the client first.

Morgan Stanley fired Smith in 2016 in the wake of the broker fraud allegations.

26-Year Old Mayor is Arrested and Accused of Investor Fraud

Jasiel Correira, who is the mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, has pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal counts of wire fraud and tax fraud. The 26-year-old was arrested this week following allegations that he defrauded investors of over $230K.

Correira maintains that the investor fraud allegations are false. He refuses to step down as city mayor.

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