FINRA Bars Ex-Registered Rep, Who Wouldn’t Cooperate In Investigation
Christopher Duke Bennett, an ex-Hilliard Lyons broker, is barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Bennett has been the subject of 15 numerous securities fraud customer disputes over the years.
The bar comes after he refused to cooperate in the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) probe that was opened in the wake of several people accusing him of unauthorized trading and making unsuitable investment recommendations. Bennett also is no longer a registered investment adviser.
Bennett was a Hilliard Lyons Broker for More Than Two Decades
According to his BrokerCheck record, Christopher Bennett worked 22 years in the industry. During this entire time, he was with Hilliard Lyons, which was acquired by Baird last year. The 15 customer disputes naming him were filed over the last four years, including five securities fraud claims that are still pending:
- 7/2019: An ex-customer is accusing Bennett of making unsuitable investment recommendations, unauthorized trading, stockbroker fraud, and churning. A failure to supervise allegation against Hilliard Lyons is included. The investor is seeking $65K in damages.
- 5/2019: Alleging unsuitable trading, excessive trading, and unauthorized trading, this customer is asking for $900K in damages.
- 11/2018: The claimant is alleging unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading.
- 1/2018: Requesting $5M in damages, the customer is claiming unsuitability, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentation.
- 7/2017: The claimant is making similar allegations as the other pending cases.
The other customer disputes on Bennett’s record, all of which were settled, make similar claims.
They were resolved for different amounts, including several in the six-figures: a $375K settlement involving Breitburn energy investments; a $475K settlement over unsuitable investment recommendations and sales; a $350K settlement alleging overconcentration of one customer’s portfolio resulting in too much risk; and a $445K settlement over allegedly unauthorized trades.
FINRA’s bar against Bennett comes over a year after it suspended him for 15 business days following allegations that he had exercised discretionary trading in the accounts of several customers, including a senior investor, without their authorization or his firm’s acceptance that the accounts were discretionary.
In his letter of acceptance, waiver, and consent from June 15th, Bennett consented to the sanctions but did not deny or admit to the findings.
Inadequate Supervision by Hilliard Lyons
Considering that Hilliard Lyons was the firm that Bennett was registered with during his entire time as a broker, this brokerage firm should be held liable for failing to supervise him if it neglected to identify, prevent, and/or protect its customers from his allegedly fraudulent and negligent actions.
Surely, the firm had to be aware of the growing number of investor complaints that Bennett was involved in. Yet Hilliard Lyons continued to employ him until 2018 when he terminated his registration.
Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas are speaking with former customers of Bennett who suffered serious investment losses while working with him. For 30 years, we’ve represented thousands of investors nationwide who were the victim of securities fraud and brokerage firm negligence. We’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf.
Contact us today for a free case consultation. We operate on a no recovery, no fee basis.