Articles Posted in FINRA

Investors Alleging Negligence and Mishandling of Their Retirement Funds Win FINRA Case

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel arbitration is ordering First Allied Securities and financial adviser Larry Glenn Boggs to pay claimants and early retirees Nita and Mike Snow over $578K in compensatory damages, $500,000 in punitive damages, $350K in attorney’s fees, and $60K in other costs related to losses they sustained. Boggs had worked with the Snows on their early retirement plan, which included investing in the Sun America Life-issued variable annuity the Polaris Advantage II and other investments.

In their securities arbitration claim, the Snows sought compensation from Boggs, First Allied Securities, First Allied Advisory Securities, and American Retirement Solutions of Louisiana, LLC. All of them denied wrongdoing.

Investor Awarded $276K in Woodbridge Ponzi Fraud

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel has awarded more than $276K to an investor that lost money in the $1.2B Woodbridge Ponzi scam. The panel found that Quest Capital Strategies did not properly supervise former broker Frank Dietrich, who sold $400K of Woodbridge-sponsored mortgage notes to the investor.

According to InvestmentNews, Dietrich sold $10.8M of Woodbridge mortgage funds to 58 investors, making nearly $261K in commissions. He retired in March. In November, FINRA barred him after finding that the former broker did not obtain Quest’s approval to sell the notes.

Daniel Todd Levine, a former Morgan Stanley (MS) broker, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority after he failed to cooperate in a probe into allegations that he may have taken part in outside business activities that he did not disclose to the broker-dealer while he worked for the firm. Levine was a Morgan Stanley broker based in Denver, Colorado between 2013 and July 2018 when he stepped down. His next employer was First Financial Equity Corp., but that brokerage firm fired him a few weeks later after he did not notify them about the FINRA investigation.

According to Levine’s BrokerCheck record, he previously worked with Prudential Securities, Merrill Lynch, and UBS (UBS). He was employed in the securities industry for over 20 years.

A number of other former Morgan Stanley brokers have recently made news headlines over allegations of broker fraud. Last month, FINRA announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Ami Forte, who is accused of making unauthorized trades in the account of now deceased Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy M. Speer. In November, former Morgan Stanley financial adviser James Polese was sentenced to five years behind bars after pleading guilty to defrauding customers of over $1M.

According to InvestmentNews, sources are reporting that GPB Capital Holdings is now under investigation by both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The probes come just a few months after Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin announced that he was conducting a widespread probe into over 60 brokerage firms that sold private placements that came from GPB Capital Holdings. Now, both federal securities regulators are also reportedly looking into these broker-dealers.

GPB, which mostly purchases auto dealerships, raised about $1.8B from investors who bought GPB private placement shares. InvestmentNews reports that according to one brokerage executive, the private placements’ loads were as follows: Investors paid 10% commission to the brokerage firm and financial representative that sold them the shares and they paid 2% went for organization and offering expenses.

Another source reportedly told InvestmentNews that at issue for the SEC in its investigation are:

Prosecutors in Malaysia have filed criminal charges against a number of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) units and several people over a massive multibillion-dollar  bond fraud involving the sovereign wealth fund the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The individuals charged including former Goldman managing directors Roger Ng Chong Hwa and Tim Leissner, financier Jho Low, who is accused of masterminding the fraud, and ex-1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan.

Malaysia Attorney General Tuan Tommy Thomas said that the criminal charges are related to fake and misleading statements issued in order to steal $2.7B from the proceeds of three 1MDB subsidiary issued-bonds. The bonds, which Goldman organized and underwrote, were valued at over $6B.

The defendants are accused of conspiring together to bribe public officials in Malaysia so as to allow for Goldman’s involvement with the bonds. The investment bank earned about $600M in fees for its work with the Malaysian sovereign fund.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is ordering Merrill Lynch to pay $300K after finding that it did not properly supervise former broker Eva Weinberg, who went to prison for defrauding former NFL football player Dwight Freeney. Merrill, which is now a wholly-owned Bank of America (BAC) subsidiary, consented to the fine and censure imposed for not properly investigating and overseeing Weinberg even after the firm had internally flagged three of her emails and a $1.7M default judgment had been rendered against her in a civil case. (It should be noted that this case is not listed on her BrokerCheck record but was reported by InvestmentNews.)

What Weinberg’s BrokerCheck record does state is that she began working in the industry in 1988, but then in 2004 she took several years away to work at a real estate company owned by a man named Michael Stern, who is also now in prison for defrauding Freeney. Even before Freeney, however, Stern already had a criminal record.

FINRA said that when Weinberg applied to Merrill for employment in 2009, she did not mention the years she had spent working for Stern. The broker-dealer went on to hire her in their Miami office where she worked with professional athletes, including Freeney. She is the one who introduced the former NFL player to Stern.

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.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has barred yet another ex-broker for selling promissory notes that have since been linked to the $1.2B Woodbridge Ponzi scam. The fraud is believed to have bilked around 8,400 investors.

According to the self-regulatory authority (SRO), broker Frank Dietrich sold 58 investors $10M of promissory notes that came from the Woodbridge Group of Companies. 30 of these investors were clients of Quest Capital Strategies, Inc., which was Dietrich’s brokerage firm at the time of the sales. FINRA said that the former Quest Capital broker earned $261K in commissions from selling the Woodbridge investments.

Quest Capital Strategies reportedly did not know that Dietrich was selling the Woodbridge notes to its customers. Earlier this year, the brokerage firm allowed him to step down after finding that he had sold a product it had not approved and for failing to disclose external business activities.

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 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is ordering H. Beck to pay a $400K fine. The self-regulatory authority (SRO) contends that the independent brokerage firm sold variable annuities (VA) to clients even though they were not suitable for some of them.

According to FINRA, of the over 7,000 variable annuity contracts that H. Beck sold, making almost $34.9M in revenue between 1/2013 and 12/2014:

  • 2,835 of those were L-share contracts with quite a number of them tied to long-term riders.
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