Articles Posted in FINRA

In a recent award, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel has decided that Merrill Lynch must pay a former professional baseball player and his wife $1.7 million in compensatory damages, plus $88,758 in costs, for losses they sustained from investing in Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds. The retired MLB player is Angel Pagan and his wife is Windy Pagan, a former Ms. Puerto Rico. Angel was an outfielder for the NY Mets, the Chicago Cubs, and the San Francisco Giants before retiring to live on the island.

The couple invested $3.3M in the Puerto Rico bonds at the recommendation of their Merrill Lynch broker, Alex Jose Gierbolini (Gierbolini), who previously worked at UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico (UBS). UBS has been the subject of thousands of investor claims for losses sustained when the Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds plunged in value beginning in 2013. It was while Gierbolini was a UBS financial representative that he sold to the Pagans the majority of their bonds.

Gierbolini continued to work with the couple when he moved to Merrill Lynch in 2012. They contend that Merrill Lynch and Gierbolini disregarded red flags indicating that the Puerto Rico bonds were headed downward. This left the Pagans’ portfolio overexposed.

Former First Allied Securities Rep. Accused of Inappropriate REIT Recommendations

Our investor lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are looking into claims by clients of former First Allied Securities stockbroker Shlomo Strugano. Strugano was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory (FINRA) earlier this month.

Strugano, also known as Shlomy Strugano, is based in California. He has been the subject of at least four customer disputes, two of which are still pending. The ex-stockbroker is accused, among other things, of making inappropriate recommendations involving real estate investment trusts (REITS) to customers.

Barred Broker Named In Almost 50 Customer Complaints 

Anthony Diaz, a former Pennsylvania stockbroker and investment advisor who has been the subject of dozens of customer complaints, is finally on trial for fraud. Jury selection is slated to start this week. 

Our investor lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are speaking with former investors who worked with Diaz at one of the 11 brokerage firms where he was registered including Edward Jones, Raymond James and First Allied Securities to help determine if they have grounds for a broker fraud claim. 

National Planning Ordered to pay $2.6M to Older Investor

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel is ordering National Planning Corp. to pay a customer, who is in her eighties, $2.6M after her former stockbroker, William August Glaser, sold her unsuitable investments. The investments including fraudulent promissory notes and non-traded REITs (real estate investment trusts). $1M of the award is for punitive damages.

William Glaser, who was fired by National Planning and barred by FINRA in 2017, is currently in prison for wire fraud.

SSEK Law Firm investigates Martin David Batstone and Newbridge Securities Corp.

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK Law Firm”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations against Martin David Batstone, formerly employed by Newbridge Securities Corp. out of San Diego, California. Prior to that he worked at Crown Capital Securities and Independent Financial Group, LLC.  According to allegations, Batstone used his position as a financial advisor to solicit investments in an outside business activity.  It is unclear if this outside operation was approved by Newbridge Securities or his prior employers. It is further alleged Batstone utilized a portion of the funds for his own use.  The practice of soliciting firm clients to invest in outside business activities is referred to as “selling away” and is prohibited by most firms.  Often times it turns out these unapproved outside investments are controlled by the financial advisor, or at the very least there is renumeration of some sort.

Perhaps due to the above conduct, Batstone is no longer in the business.  However, a formal complaint has been filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) against Batstone. Therein it is alleged that Batstone solicited $75,000 from clients to invest in a small limited liability company which claimed to provide brand management and product placement services for entertainers and athletes.  According to the complaint, the company was owned by a former rapper and DJ.  Batstone claimed in his sales pitch that the proceeds would be used for operating expenses and marketing of a sports energy drink.  At some point in time, it is alleged, that Batstone transferred some assets to his personal bank account.  The complaint further states that Batstone never advised his clients of that fact.  The FINRA complaint is still pending.

Barred Woodbury Financial Services Broker Accused of Misrepresentations and Fraud

If you are an investor who lost money while Robert Hayes Hoffman was your financial representative, our broker misconduct lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) would like to talk to you. Hoffman was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2017 and the Indiana Securities Division in 2018. He was a Woodbury Financial Services broker from 2006 and 2017. After that, for less than a year, he was a Thurston, Springer, Miller, Herd & Titak broker until the FINRA bar.

Hoffman’s BrokerCheck History notes that he has already been the subject of at least three customer disputes. One claim, alleging unsuitability, misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, and selling away, was settled for $250K. Another customer dispute, which made similar allegations, including churning, was settled for over $1M. A third dispute, which accused Hoffman of recommending a variable annuity that was not only unsuitable for the claimant but also resulted in tax consequences for her, was settled for nearly $48K.

Lek Securities Accused of Enabling Manipulative Trading

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and most major US securities exchanges have permanently barred broker Samuel Lek, who is also the former CEO of Lek Securities. Meantime, the broker-dealer was fined $900K. The bars by the self-regulatory organization (FSRO), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Nasdaq Stock Market, Cboe Global Markets, and their affiliate exchanges were part of 10 distinct settlements and come in the wake of allegations that Lek Securities gave foreign traders market access and that some of these traders proceeded to engage in manipulative trading and fraud. Lek and Lek Securities settled the charges but without denying or admitting to them.

Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) is a broker fraud law firm, and we are investigating claims of investor losses by former clients of Lek and Lek Securities. Please contact SSEK Law Firm so that we can help you explore your legal options.

Former Pruco Securities Broker Accused of Borrowing Customers’ Money

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it is barring Joseph Viet Duy Phan, an ex-Pruco Securities broker, after he did not appear at a hearing in the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO) probe into why he was fired by the broker-dealer. Phan was let go by Pruco for allegedly borrowing money from two clients’ accounts without firm approval. Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) is currently looking into potential investor claims against the former Pruco broker and his firm. If you lost money while working with Phan as your registered representative, contact our broker fraud lawyers today.

Phan was a Pruco broker from 2007 into 2018. Aside from allegedly borrowing money from clients’ accounts without authorization, he is also accused of trying to deposit one client’s insurance premium check into an account that was in his name.

GPB Capital Fraud Victim To Have Case Heard By FINRA 

An investor who lost significant sums after she was sold GPB Capital private placements by an Arkadios Capital broker will get her case heard before a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration (FINRA) panel in April 2020. 

This will likely be the first broker fraud complaint involving GPB investments to go before the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) arbitrators. 

A Ninth Circuit panel has struck down JP Morgan Securities’ arbitration win in a wrongful termination case brought by one of its former financial analysts. The appeals court found that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel acted unreasonably when it refused to delay the rest of the arbitration proceedings after the firm’s ex-financial analyst, Bradley Sayre, and his lawyer both had medical emergencies.

Sayre couldn’t make part of the proceedings because his wife had a baby. Not only that, but his attorney wasn’t able to be present for all of the hearing after suffering a stroke.

Sayre asked for a continuance, but the FINRA panel denied his request, deciding that it could make an impartial ruling even without his presence or that of his lawyer. The arbitration panel ruled in favor of the financial firm.

Contact Information