A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel (FINRA) has awarded one of our clients, a 91-year-old widow, $550K in her Texas broker-dealer fraud case against UBS Financial Services (UBS). The claimant, who is from Texas, contends in her Houston senior investor fraud case that because her UBS broker made unsuitable investments on her behalf, she lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in her retirement accounts.
While the FINRA arbitration award doesn’t name the broker, Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas lawyer David Miller identified him as former UBS broker William Andrew Hightower. Attorney Miller said that Hightower, who headed up Hightower Capital Group, recommended that the claimant invest in leveraged and inverse exchange traded products and structured products, as well as his own private investments. These investments were not suitable for her.
Hightower is now accused of operating a $10M Ponzi fraud. Among the unsuitable investments that he made on our client’s behalf were those involving private placements Reproductive Research Technologies and Isospec Technologies, which were part of his alleged scam, and one fake private annuity.
The FINRA arbitration panel awarded the claimant $530K in compensatory damages and $250K in costs.
UBS expressed disagreement over the award, claiming it had not been aware of Hightower’s actions. However, it is the responsibility of brokerage firms to properly oversee their brokers. Inadequate supervision, when it enables broker fraud, can be grounds for an investor claim against the broker-dealer.
FINRA Bars Hightower
Hightower was a registered UBS broker from ’07-13. FINRA barred him in 2015 after he failed to fully respond to the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) probe into allegations that he acted improperly by recommending an unapproved private securities transaction to customers.
With 20 years in the industry, Hightower also was previously a registered broker with Legacy Asset Securities, RBC Dain Rauscher, AG Edwards and Sons, and Painwebber Inc. His BrokerCheck record notes several customer disputes alleging broker fraud and Texas securities fraud.
Last year, prosecutors charged Hightower with mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering while running a Ponzi scam. The 13-count criminal indictment accuses the former broker of stealing from clients and making false promises to them.
Investors thought they were investing in real projects, when in fact, Hightower was allegedly using their money to support his lifestyle and pay earlier investors. He also purportedly did not tell them that FINRA barred him from the industry.
UBS Broker Fraud Lawyers
Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) represents investors throughout the state and the rest of the US, including older investors, retail investors, high net worth individual investors, and institutional investors. Our broker fraud lawyers have successfully gone up against UBS on behalf of our clients on numerous occasions, both on the mainland and in Puerto Rico, where many thousands of investors suffered losses due to the inappropriate recommendations and sales of Puerto Rico bond funds and closed-end bond funds. Contact SSEK Law Firm to request your free, no obligation case consultation.