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Articles Tagged with FINRA

Fired Wells Fargo Representative is Barred by FINRA

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced this month that it is barring former Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network broker, Leonard Charles Kinsman, from the industry. 

The ban comes after Kinsman refused to testify in the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) probe into his firing by Wells Fargo (WFC) for allegedly “unprofessional conduct.” Kinsman was named last year in an investor fraud claim accusing him of making unsuitable investment recommendations and forging and falsifying business records. That customer dispute has now been settled for $995K.  

Investment Losses During the Coronavirus Has Investors Scrambling for Answers

If you are like many Americans with investments, you may be struggling to grapple with the massive losses affecting your portfolio as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc on the economy, the markets, the job industry, and people’s lives. 

What you may not realize is that your investment losses may also be a result of broker fraud or negligence on your stockbroker or investment adviser’s part, which is where our investor attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) can help you.

FINRA Orders Oppenheimer To Pay $3.8M

Oppenheimer & Co. (OPY) must pay over $3.8M in restitution to customers who may have had to pay excess sales fees for the early rollovers of their United Investment Trusts (UITs). The order comes from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and includes an $800K fine for not reasonably supervising these early UIT rollovers. 

The self-regulatory organization (SRO) contends that from 1/2011 to 12/2015 of the $6.4B of United Investment Trust transactions that Oppenheimer executed, $753.9M of these were early rollovers. 

SSEK Investigates JP Morgan Securities And Ex-Employee, Donovan St. Anthony Hunter 

Shepherd, Smith Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations against Donovan St. Anthony Hunter, previously employed by JP Morgan Securities out of Houston, Texas.

Prior to that, he worked at Wallis State Bank. According to allegations, Hunter used the office of his position to solicit investments in an outside business activity. This outside investment entity was not approved by JP Morgan Securities. 

Kalos Capital And GPB Capital: What Is Their Connection? 

Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) is continuing to investigate and file cases against Kalos Capital and its financial advisors in relation to GPB Capital investments. Kalos Capital is a FINRA licensed broker-dealer which is a subsidiary of Kalos Financial. Both are based our of the same address in Alpharetta, Georgia. 

According to Kalos’s BrokerCheck Report (FINRA’s official record of firms and brokers), Kalos Financial owns 75% or more of Kalos Capital. According to its website, Kalos Financial was founded by David and Carol Wildermuth in 2004. 

The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has refused to overturn the US Securities and Exchange Commission ruling that Wedbush Securities Inc. engaged in inadequate supervision of its own regulatory compliance. The appeals court also affirmed the suspension of the brokerage firm’s president and principal Edward W. Wedbush.

The SEC’s 2016 finding had sustained a 2014 ruling by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s National Adjudicatory Council, which ordered Wedbush to pay a $350K fine for either not filing, or filing late, dozens of documents regarding complaints and judgments that had been brought against the investment firm and its financial representatives. Finra found that Wedbush Securities violated the bylaws and rules of the NASD, the NYSE, and the self-regulatory organization itself 158 times and was delinquent in submitting the documents at issue over a five-year period, from 1/2005 to 7/2010.

Wedbush and its president had tried to argue before the SEC that FINRA was wrong in finding that the broker-dealer failed to supervise reporting requirements. The brokerage firm also questioned whether the hearing it received before the SRO was a fair one since a FINRA rule did not specifically note suspension as a sanction.

FINRA Arbitration Panel Awards Allegis Investment Advisors Client $404,482

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel has awarded Mark Watson $404,482 in his unauthorized trading case against Allegis Investment Services, Allegis Investment Advisors, and ex-broker Brandon Curt Stimpson. Watson is accusing Stimpson of placing his life savings in investments that were too risky and complex and of making unauthorized trades involving index put options connected to the Russell 2000 Index even though he had told the broker that he only wanted up to 25% of his portfolio involved in these. Instead, Watson alleges, Stimpson invested way more of his money in the index put options.

In his securities arbitration case, Watson also alleged breach of fiduciary duty. Now, a FINRA panel has awarded him nearly $275K in compensatory damages, nearly $54K in interest, and other costs.

Stimpson was fired by Allegis last year for not abiding by the firm’s ethics code and policies. According to his BrokerCheck records, he has been named in eight other customer disputes.

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New Hampshire Says Merrill Lynch Must Pay $400,000 For Not Complying with Telemarketing Rules

Bank of America (BAC) Merrill Lynch has consented to pay $400,000 to resolve claims made by the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation accusing the firm of improperly soliciting business when it called people who were on do-not-call lists and were not clients. As part of the deal, Merrill Lynch will improve its telemarketing procedures and policies. A spokesperson for the brokerage firm says it has already enhanced internal controls to avoid making inappropriate calls moving forward.

According to the regulator, not only did the broker-dealer fail to fully comprehend how to comply with the state’s rules for telemarketing but also the firm did not reasonably supervise its agents’ telemarketing activities in New Hampshire.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network (WFAFN) and Wells Fargo Advisors (WFA) to collectively pay $1.5M for anti-money laundering (AML) failures. According to the self-regulatory organization, the two brokerage firms did not comply with a main component of the anti-money laundering compliance program when it did not require some 220,000 new customer accounts to go through an identity verification process. The failures purportedly occurred from 2003 to 2012.

The anti-money laundering compliance program mandates that brokerage firms set up and keep up a written Customer Identification Program that lets them confirm the identity of every customer setting up an account. The broker-dealer should use the CIP to get and verify a minimum amount of identifying data before opening a new customer account. The firms must also keep records of the verification process and let customers know that data is being gathered to confirm their identities.

FINRA said that the firms had a CIP system but it was deficient because of the electronic systems involved. Of the 220,000 new accounts that never had to undergo customer identify verification, some 120,000 of them were closed by the time the problem was identified.

FINRA Fines WGF Investments $700,000 for Supervisory Failures

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is fining WGF Investments $700,000 for failing to commit the attention, time, and resources to certain duties related to supervising registered representatives. WGF is a midsize independent brokerage firm.

According to the self-regulatory organization, from 3/07-1/14, WGF did not supervise private securities transactions of one representative and failed to keep up an adequate supervisory system to make sure that the customer transactions taking place were suitable. The broker-dealer also is accused of not properly supervising one representative’s alternative investment sales.

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