Articles Tagged with inadequate supervision

Lax Oversight Purportedly Allowed An LPL Broker to Continue Defrauding Customers in Ponzi Scam

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined LPL Financial Holdings (LPLA) $6.5M due to purported supervisory inadequacies related to recordkeeping, fingerprinting employees that were non-registered representatives, and its financial advisers’ consolidated reports. The self-regulatory organization (SRO) found that due to weak oversight of these consolidated reports, an ex-broker was enabled to continue committing a $5M Ponzi scheme. 

The former registered investment advisor, identified by Advisors Hub as ex-Norwalk, Connecticut broker James Thomas Booth,  pleaded guilty to securities fraud in November. He was sentenced to 42 months behind bars. Booth has been named in 36 customer disputes.  

Coastal Equities Has Been The Subject of $3M in Investor Arbitration Claims

Coastal Equities, a mid-sized broker-dealer, recently arrived at a settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in which it agreed to give $280K in restitution to several customers. The firm is accused of failing to reasonably supervise one of its registered representatives, who recommended trades that were allegedly excessive and unsuitable. Those who were harmed were retirees and senior investors.

It was just last year that Coastal Equities said in its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that investors had submitted $3M in arbitration claims against the firm. 

Boca Raton Stockbroker Recently Named in Two FINRA Arbitration Complaints

Willard Louis Pugh, a National Asset Management financial advisor in Florida, is currently under scrutiny in the wake of customer allegations alleging unsuitable investment recommendations. Pugh, who has been in the securities industry for 32 years, is also a National Securities Corporation broker.  He was recently named in two customer disputes filed in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration.

The first investor claim, brought in June, seeks $300K in damages. William Pugh’s BrokerCheck record doesn’t specify what type of investment is involved. The second customer case, filed in July, names the United Development Funding V real estate investment trust (UDF V REIT). The claimant is seeking $155K. 

Morgan Stanley Settlement Includes FINRA Fine and Investor Restitution 

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has consented to pay a $175K fine and more than $774K in restitution for allegedly failing to supervise its former broker Kevin Gunnip. 

The Texas-based financial representative is accused of excessively trading in preferred securities and corporate bonds over five years, causing 10 customers to lose more than $900K. 

Wells Fargo Sold Non-Traditional ETFs to Retail Investors 

If you were an investor who suffered losses in non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that you feel were unsuitable for you yet were recommended by a Wells Fargo investment advisor or broker, our ETF fraud attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) would like to offer you a free case consultation. 

Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network and Wells Fargo Clearing Services recently agreed to pay $35M to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims. These claims accused the two Wells Fargo entities of lax supervision of their registered investment advisors (RIAs). As well as the brokers who recommended certain complex non-traditional ETFs to retirees and other retail advisory and brokerage customers. 

Centaurus Financial Broker Named In Multiple Customer Disputes 

If you suffered substantial investment losses while Centaurus Financial broker, Katherine Nishnic, was your registered representative, please contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm). We can help you determine whether you have grounds for a broker fraud case. According to her BrokerCheck record, Nishnic is already the subject of at least eight customer disputes

She has been in the industry for 25 years and a Centaurus broker for four years. Previous to that, Nishnic was registered as a broker for JP Turner and before that with GunnAllen Financial, First Allied Securities, DE Frey & Co., Merrill Lynch and Pierce Fenner and Smith.  

Four Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. (SF) clients were awarded $1.5M in compensatory damages in their Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration case against the brokerage firm. According to AdvisorHub, the claimants are accusing the broker-dealer of not properly supervising Stifel Nicolaus broker Kenneth D. Blumberg, who they contend invested up to 80% of their portfolio in biotech stocks.

The claimants also said that Blumberg mismarked trades and encouraged them to add more positions even as they were losing money. They are alleging the following:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty

FINRA Panel Orders Hilliard Lyons to Pay Damages to Elderly Client

In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration case, Hilliard Lyons is ordered to pay 84-year-old Elizabeth Nickens $445K in damages for losses she sustained from alleged churning and unauthorized trading. Nickens claims that advisor Christopher Bennett made transactions without her authorization in her retirement accounts, and her assets were allocated in such a way that were not suitable for her or investment goals.

Nickens, as an older investor, had a low risk tolerance and was more interested in preserving her funds. Yet, according to her attorney, more than half of her average account equity was in four stocks. She lost over $300K.

Hilliard Lyons is accused of not properly supervising the trades. The firm and Bennett deny the senior financial fraud allegations.
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Ex-Financial Adviser Who Worked for Texas-Based Firm is Barred by SEC After Defrauding Pro Athletes 
Ash Narayan, an ex-California financial adviser, has been barred by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Narayan, who is accused of secretly receiving almost $2M from companies that he invested in on behalf of his professional athlete clients, agreed to no longer associate with advisory or brokerage firms to resolve the regulator’s allegations.

Narayan worked for Dallas firm RGT Wealth Advisors, but he was based in California as the managing director of its Irvine office. He also is accused of misrepresenting himself as a CPA and placing clients in unsuitable private investments. In October, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards issued a temporary suspension against him while an investigation was conducted into the allegations. RGT Wealth Advisers fired Narayan early this year.

According to the SEC, Narayan’s alleged fraud occurred between 2010 and 2016, during which time he directed $33M to a company that he was involved in and was in poor financial health. By settling, Narayan is not denying or admitting to the SEC charges.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering VALIC Financial Advisors Inc. to pay a $1.75M fine for purported conflicts of interest that impacted the way that the firm compensated brokers for selling annuities.

According to the self-regulatory organization, from 10/2011 through 10/2014, the Houston-based financial firm established a conflict of interest when it said registered representatives would receive financial incentives for recommending that clients transfer their money from VALIC variable annuities into a Valic fixed index annuity or onto its fee-based platform.

FINRA said that the firm created even more conflict when it told representatives they would not get compensation from moving customer money to a non-Valic product from a Valic variable annuity.

FINRA said that because of these conflicts, a significant amount of assets were moved to the firm’s advisory platform and sales of  VALIC ’s proprietary fixed index annuity increased by over 610% after it was included in the firm’s compensation policy.

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