The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is accusing Park Financial Group Inc., JP Turner & Co., and Legent Clearing LLC of inadequate anti-money laundering procedures. The broker-dealers and four persons connected to them have consented to pay more than $1.25 million for failing to detect and report suspect penny-stock transactions.
JP Turner & Co. will pay $525,000, Park Financial will pay $400,000, and Legent Clearing will pay $350,000. By agreeing to pay the fines, the broker-dealers are not admitting or denying wrongdoing. Also:
• Park Financial equity trader David Farber received a $30,000 fine and a 30-day suspension.
• JP Turner’s ex-AML compliance officer S. Cheryl Bauman received a $30,000 fine and a suspension barring her for 18 months from acting as a securities firm principal.
• Former JP Turner branch manager Robert Meyer received a 1-month suspension from acting as a principal. He also must pay a $5,000 fine.
• JP Turner equity trader John McFarland and former Park Financial CEO and AML compliance officer Gordon Charles Cantley have agreed to be permanently barred from the industry.
According to Susan Merrill, FINRA’s enforcement chief, the firms allowed suspicious trades to be processed even though there were notable red flags. Suspect trades included the liquidations and deposits of penny stocks connected to parties with histories of stock manipulation or securities fraud.
FINRA claims the broker-dealers neglected to set up and put into action proper procedures to identify and report suspect trading involving low-priced securities and that this failure resulted in the risk that the securities could be used by “unscrupulous” parties,” including those involved in securities fraud, money laundering, or market manipulation.
For example, FINRA says although Park Financial had clients with histories of securities-related violations, the broker-dealer failed to note the “red flags” that might indicate the customers could be involved in risky activities, including depositing millions of low-priced securities shares and making millions of dollars by liquidating the shares and sending the proceeds to bank accounts in the US and offshore.
FINRA is accusing JP Turner of neglecting to identify, probe, and file Suspicious Activity Reports over a number of possibly suspect transactions, such as those involving numerous accounts under one name or clients using multiple names for no business-related reason. FINRA contends that Legent Clearing has an AML program that doesn’t consider the company’s business risks and fails to properly consider money laundering risks presented by some of its correspondent firms that had extensive disciplinary histories and were engaged in penny stock liquidations and other high-risk business activities.
Related Web Resources:
FINRA Fines Three Firms Over $1.25 Million for Failing to Detect, Investigate and Report Suspicious Transactions in Penny Stocks, FINRA, June 4, 2009
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