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Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas Investigates Claims by Clients of Innovation Partners

Our investor lawyers at SSEK Law Firm are meeting with clients who’ve worked with Innovation Partners and suffered investment losses that they suspect may be due to fraud, negligence, or inadequate supervision. The North Carolina-based broker-dealer was recently fined $60K and censured by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) after allowing its ex-co founder, president, CCO and CEO Patrick Emanuel Sutherland, to continue to have access to its email, other systems, records, and books, as well as engage in activities on its behalf, even after he was found guilty of multiple felonies in 2016.

Those felonies, including submitting a false tax return and obstruction of an official proceeding, should have disqualified him from associating with a member firm for a decade. Yet from approximately 10/28/2016 to 9/15/2019, Sutherland continued to remain involved with Innovation Partners, even discussing securities-related matters with associated persons at the brokerage firm and directing staff regarding commissions for transactions.

Meantime, Innovation Partners’ current CEO and President Yanique Elaine Lawrence reportedly knew about Sutherland’s continued involvement and was often copied on his direct communications with the firm’s registered representatives. Both Lawrence and Innovation Partners are accused of not setting up and enforcing a suitable supervisory system that should have prevented Sutherland from continuing to be involved with the firm.

As a firm principal, it is Lawrence’s job to certify that there are no unregistered persons at the firm acting in a capacity requiring registration, as well as no statutorily disqualified individuals with access to the broker-dealer’s different systems. With 19 years in the industry and before establishing Innovation Partners with Sutherland, Lawrence was a broker with Royal Alliance Associates, United Securities Alliance, and LifeUSA Securities. Now, she is suspended for six months through April 6, 2020 and must pay a $20K fine.

FINRA officially barred Sutherland in August. He also was previously a United Securities Alliance broker and before that was registered as a broker with American General Securities.

Brokerage Firm  Misconduct

When lax supervision, regulatory violations, engaging with unauthorized and unregistered persons, and other negligent actions expose firm clients to risks that may lead to losses, this can be grounds for a broker-dealer fraud claim. Please contact SSEK Law Firm if you are questioning whether your investment losses while you were an Innovation Partners client was due to fraud or negligence.

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