In a default decision, San Antonio broker-dealer Pinnacle Partners Financial, Corp. has been expelled by a FINRA hearing officer for Texas securities fraud. The company’s president Brian Alfaro has also been barred. The financial firm and its head are accused of running a boiler room, engaging in the fraudulent selling of unregistered securities and private placements for gas and oil, and making numerous misrepresentations related to these investments. Alfaro is also accused of taking some of the investors’ money to pay for personal spending and unrelated business costs. The default decision was issued after Alfaro failed to show up at the FINRA panel hearing.
It was a year ago that FINRA issued an indefinite suspension against Alfaro and Pinnacle for not complying with a temporary order to cease and desist from making fraudulent misrepresentations. The two parties, however, allegedly kept making them, in addition to omissions related to the sale and offering of specific oil and gas joint interests.
According to the hearing officer, the Texas securities firm and its president operated the boiler room between August 2008 and March 2011. 10 brokers made cold calls numbering in the thousands to draw in investors for drilling investments involving gas and oil that was controlled or owned by Alfaro. They were able to get over 100 investors to put in more than $10 million.
Allegedly, between January 2009 and March 2011, Alfaro misused some of these monies, which investors thought were going toward well production and drilling, to cover some of his personal spending and other businesses. The misrepresentations and omissions that they are accused of purposely making in numerous private placements about a number of matters, include those involving inflated natural gas prices, cash flow, gross returns, and projected returns for natural gas. For example, they allegedly gave out a document claiming that over $14 million had been distributed to investors when, in fact, that figure was closer to under $1.5 million. Alfaro and Pinnacle also supposedly got rid of unfavorable, key information from well operator reports and gave investors maps that didn’t show undesirable wells that were located close to sites where drilling was supposed to take place.
To make restitution, Pinnacle and Alfaro will have to rescind the contracts of those that invested in the fraudulent offerings. They also must pay back the sales commission to clients who don’t ask for rescission.
FINRA Hearing Officer Expels Pinnacle Partners Financial Corp. and Bars President for Fraud, MarketWatch, April 25, 2012
Texas broker-dealer expelled by FINRA hearing officer, Reuters, April 25, 2012
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