Ex-Merrill Lynch Broker Gets Eight Years in Prison For Investor Fraud

Former Kentucky-Based Merrill Lynch Broker Gets Eight Years in Prison

Christopher Lee Hibbard, a former stockbroker for Merrill Lynch and Pierce, Fenner & Smith is sentenced to eight years in prison. The ex-Kentucky stockbroker pleaded guilty to investment fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud earlier this year. 

Hibbard, who worked 18 years in the industry, has 14 disclosures on his BrokerCheck record, including several pending customer disputes. All of them, including the regulator and criminal cases, were filed over the last two years. 

Before becoming a Merrill Lynch registered representative (2010-2018), the firm fired him for theft and making unauthorized transactions—he used to be a Morgan Keegan broker (2004 to 2010). Before that, he was registered with AG Edwards and Sons (1999 to 2004). The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred Christopher Hibbard in 2018.

Broker-dealers can be held liable for the negligent or fraudulent actions of their registered representatives. Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm at investorlawyers.com) represents investors in their claims to recover their losses and damages from the brokerage firms whose negligence, or whose financial adviser’s misconduct or carelessness, caused them harm.

Contact our broker fraud attorneys today if you suffered significant losses while working with Merrill Lynch stockbroker, Christopher Hibbard, or when he was a broker for Morgan Keegan or AG Edwards. SSEK Law Firm works with investors nationwide.

Hibbard Misappropriated Millions From Customers

According to the plea deal, between 2007 and 2008, Hibbard misappropriated over $1.2M from one Louisville customer’s account for his own use. He prepared fraudulent brokerage statements, even as he drained the investor’s funds, to make it seem like the account had up to $4M.

He also misappropriated over $3M from other clients between 2011 and 2017 through hundreds of unauthorized wire transfers. Hibbard committed investment fraud by liquidating clients’ investments, engaging in unauthorized trading, committing forgery, and making unauthorized withdrawals.

Of the 14 disclosures on his BrokerCheck, 11 are customer disputes:

  • 9/2020: The claimant alleges misappropriation and is seeking $100K in damages.
  • 1/2019: Settled for $250K, the investor alleged unauthorized, misrepresentations, misappropriation, forgery, and embezzlement from 2005 to 2018.
  • 10/2018: Still pending, this customer dispute alleges misappropriation from July 2010 to January 2018.
  • 7/2018: In this investor case, allegations of unsuitability, theft, churning, misappropriation, and misrepresentation from July 2010 to January 2018 were made. A $175K settlement was reached. 
  • 5/2018: In this still pending case, the claimant alleges misappropriation of funds from November 2009 to August 2010.
  • 5/2018: Alleging withdrawal discrepancies and misrepresentations, customers received a $500K settlement.
  • 4/2018: A $2.25M settlement was reached with a former customer alleging unauthorized withdrawals from 2011 to 2014.
  • 4/2018: Still pending, this claimant is alleging annuity fraud and theft in 2011.
  • 4/2018: This claimant is seeking damages for broker fraud.
  • 3/2018: Customers in this investor fraud dispute were paid a $3.6M settlement. They accused Hibbard of theft, unsuitable investment recommendations, making unauthorized transactions, and misrepresentations.

Do You Have Grounds To File A Failure To Supervise Claim?

Some of these incidents of theft and misappropriation involving Christopher Hibbard appear to have gone on for years. Brokerage firms have a duty to properly supervise their registered representatives. They also must have reasonable procedures and measures in place to identify and stop suspect activities that may indicate fraud.

Failure to supervise can be grounds for a broker-dealer claim if investors lose money as a result. Contact SSEK Law Firm and ask for your free, no-obligation case consultation to explore your legal options.

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