After failing to cooperate in a probe into allegations of securities violations, George Merhoff, a former ex-Cetera Financial Group adviser, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He was fired by the brokerage firm in April for allegedly issuing an undisclosed payment to a firm customer.
With over 21 years working in the brokerage industry, Merhoff was a registered Cetera broker for seven years. Before that, he was registered with Pacific West Securities, where he worked for 13 years, and at AAG Securities for less than a year.
Merhoff’s BrokerCheck record shows 27 customer disputes filed since December 2015 that have either been settled or are pending. Allegations include the following:
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Breach of contract
- Unsuitable investments
- Lack of diversity in investments
- Violations of common law fraud
- Negligent supervision
- Investment losses
In total, there are 34 disclosures on Merhoff’s record. According to his lawyer, the former Cetera broker opted to cease participating in FINRA’s probe due to “financial constraints,” but that initially, he did cooperate. The current investigation has to do with allegations that Merhoff did not make sure customers were fully aware of the long-term ramifications of the strategies he was using for their investments.
Cetera, meantime, has been accused by some claimants of the inadequate supervision of Merhoff.
It was just recently that another ex-Cetera broker, Nina Jessee, was subject to a bar by FINRA after she too refused to cooperate in the self-regulatory authority’s probe. Jessee, a 30-year brokerage industry veteran, was accused of engaging in outside, unauthorized business activities. She is also the subject of numerous customer disputes with allegations that have included unsuitability, overconcentration, and misrepresentation.
In 2017, Cetera Advisors and Cetera Advisors Network settled FINRA charges brought against them for overcharging certain customers, including charitable organizations and retirement plans, for mutual fund shares. Without denying or admitting to the findings, Cetera agreed to pay $2.5M in restitution.
Cetera Investor Claims
Cetera Financial Group is made up of a number of independent brokerage firms. If you are an investor who sustained suspect losses while represented by Nina Jessee, George Merhoff, or another Cetera broker, contact our broker misconduct lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) so that we can help you determine whether you have grounds for an investor fraud claim. Together, we can explore your legal options.