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Articles Posted in Inadequate Supervision

Wells Fargo Sold Non-Traditional ETFs to Retail Investors 

If you were an investor who suffered losses in non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that you feel were unsuitable for you yet were recommended by a Wells Fargo investment advisor or broker, our ETF fraud attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) would like to offer you a free case consultation. 

Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network and Wells Fargo Clearing Services recently agreed to pay $35M to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims. These claims accused the two Wells Fargo entities of lax supervision of their registered investment advisors (RIAs). As well as the brokers who recommended certain complex non-traditional ETFs to retirees and other retail advisory and brokerage customers. 

Texas-Based Broker Sold GPB Private Placements To Retiree Couple 

Once again, Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) has filed an investor fraud claim against a broker-dealer after its financial advisor sold investments in GPB Capital Holding’s funds to customers. 

This time, the brokerage firm is International Assets Advisory (IAA), LLC and the broker involved is Williams Keen Butcher who is based in Houston. 

Centaurus Financial Broker Named In Multiple Customer Disputes 

If you suffered substantial investment losses while Centaurus Financial broker, Katherine Nishnic, was your registered representative, please contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm). We can help you determine whether you have grounds for a broker fraud case. According to her BrokerCheck record, Nishnic is already the subject of at least eight customer disputes

She has been in the industry for 25 years and a Centaurus broker for four years. Previous to that, Nishnic was registered as a broker for JP Turner and before that with GunnAllen Financial, First Allied Securities, DE Frey & Co., Merrill Lynch and Pierce Fenner and Smith.  

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations made by FINRA in a recent AWC filing against Booth.   In February 2018 LPL acquired INVEST.  Booth had been working at INVEST since 2005 and has been a broker since 1988.  In the AWC it is alleged that Booth received client assets with the promise of investing said assets on behalf of the clients.  Booth instead used client assets for his own personal use and never actually invested the assets.

According to Booth’s official record or CRD, he has 25 disclosures or claims against him.  This is an unusually high number, and generally indicates poor supervision.  Almost all of the complaints are on the violative conduct listed above.  According to the FINRA CRD report, most of his former clients complain of a “Ponzi scheme using multiple shell companies.”

LPL fired Booth, and according to LPL this was done after Booth admitted to misappropriation of multiple client’s assets for his own use. It should be noted that FINRA has also barred Booth from the industry and can no longer act as a stockbroker or advisor under FINRA.

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations by the SEC against former Merrill Lynch financial advisor, Marcus Boggs (“Boggs”).  Boggs reportedly joined Merrill Lynch in 2006, working in the company’s Chicago office.  The SEC has alleged that Boggs stole client funds in excess of $1.7 million.  The stolen assets were used to cover personal expenses, including credit card charges.  According to the SEC, Boggs sought to portray himself as a pillar of the Chicago community, involving himself with various charities and attending social events in an effort to ingratiate himself with the city elite. Also, according to the SEC, Boggs maintained he managed of $40 million in assets for his clients.

Merrill Lynch fired Boggs over the SEC charges in December of 2018.  Had Merrill been properly supervising Boggs, the company may have prevented some of the theft.  According to FINRA, Boggs has three complaints on his official record all involving unauthorized transfers from client accounts.  Merrill wisely sought resolution of these matters and it appears none have actually gone to hearing.

SSEK has experience in representing customers of financial advisors who either stole their money, or stole the money of other clients.  SSEK’s experience shows that before a financial advisor begins stealing money, he or she often does other things that are wrong for clients, such as unsuitable investing, churning, unauthorized trading or other misconduct.  Even after theft is uncovered, those other wrongs often go unnoticed and are never addressed without a customer hiring a law firm like SSEK.

JP Morgan Securities (JPM) agreed to pay $14M to a claimant who accused its former broker Antoine Souma of misconduct that allegedly led to $20M in net losses. According to Advisor Hub, Souma, who is based in Los Angeles, was named in Barron’s 2016 Top 100 Financial Adviser list. He is currently a Morgan Stanley (MS) broker. He “vehemently denies” the allegations made in this investor fraud claim.

The claimant, Ziad Gandour, is the founder of industrial construction management company TI Capital. He accused Souma of the following:

  • Fraud

The Texas State Securities Board is ordering William H. Lowell, the president of Lowell & Co., to pay a $40K fine after he allegedly failed to properly supervise one of his firm’s ex- financial representatives. The formerly registered broker and investment advisor, Jody Bryant Bowers, allegedly lost nearly all of the assets in two client accounts after holding onto an exchange traded fund (ETF) for too long.

According to the state’s disciplinary order, Bowers bought and sold Proshares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (UXVY) shares, which she “exclusively” traded in in the accounts of certain clients. This type of fund makes money through S&P 500 Index volatility, benefiting when there is a drop in the index.

Because the UXVY ETF is a leveraged exchange-traded fund that is a high-risk and costly investment, it is intended for short-term trading and must be monitored every day. However, Bower allegedly disregarded the warnings that were in the ETF’s prospectus and proceeded to hold on to positions in UVXY in two client accounts for too long, including 11,000 shares in one client’s account that were held there for 987 days. This caused the loss of 93% of that client’s initial investment. Bower also allegedly held on to 2,000 UXVY shares in another client’s account for 356 days, causing a 93% loss on the initial investment.

For alleged supervisory failures and excessive trading by one of its former brokers, Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. has been ordered to pay over $880K– $558K in restitution with interest to customers that were harmed,  as well as a $325K fine to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The broker-dealer consented to the entry of the findings but did not admit to or deny wrongdoing.

According to the SRO, from 1/2012 to 3/2017, Summit neglected to review certain automated alerts for the trading activities of its registered representatives, of which there are more than 700. Because of this, one of its brokers, was able to excessively trade in accounts belonging to 14 clients, including 533 trades on behalf of one customer. This compelled her to pay over $171K in commissions.

The broker’s excessive trading resulted in 150 alerts for this type of activity, none of which were purportedly reviewed by Summit. FINRA has since barred the former registered rep.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel is ordering Legend Securities, CEO Anthony Fusco, and three of the firm’s former brokers to pay one investor $966,708 in damages. Legend Securities was expelled by the self-regulatory authority two years ago and is no longer in operation.

The claimant, Frederick Blake, alleged the following:

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin has imposed a $1.1M fine on target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>LPL Financial (LPLA) after finding that the brokerage firm did not properly register 651 of its advisors in the state. Galvin’s office contends that for six years, LPL let these brokers work in Massachusetts despite the lack of registration and that this violates the state’s securities laws.

In Massachusetts, a brokerage firm is required to register its agents before they are allowed to engage in securities-related business in the state. As of May 9, LPL had 4,219 agents who were registered in the state.

However, the lack of registration by 651 of its agents between March 2013 and April 4, 2019 prevented Massachusetts securities regulators from being able to check their qualifications and histories to ensure that investors who worked with them were in safe hands. 441 of these unregistered agents acted as financial advisors to at least one or more state residents during the period at issue. The other 210 agents supervised the agents who were advisors to these customers.

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