Articles Tagged with LPL Financial

Ex-LPL Financial (LPLA) broker, Kerry L. Hoffman, is now facing fraud charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Hoffman is accused of fraudulently selling $3.3M of unregistered securities, along with childhood friend Thomas V. Conwell, who is also a defendant in the civil case. The latter was barred by the regulator from the industry in 2000 after a separate $800K fraud that harmed 19 investors. Conwell pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges against him and was sentenced to time in prison.

According to the SEC’s current complaint, the two men defrauded at least 46 investors in a dozen states by selling GT Media, Inc. securities to them. Hoffman was a registered LPL Financial broker during most of the time of the fraud, which allegedly took place between July 2015 and July 2018. He resigned from the firm in the wake of allegations that he served as consultant to GT Media without getting LPL’s approval or notifying the firm about these outside activities. He also was accused of helping a number of LPL clients and his own family members to invest in the company.

Hoffman allegedly offered and sold $350K of GT Media convertible promissory notes and $500K of the company’s stock to five advisory clients, making $50K in commissions. The Commission is accusing him of soliciting some of his advisory clients to invest in the unregistered securities but without letting them know that he had a conflict of interest. Not only was GT Media  paying him compensation, but also the company was paying back money he had let it using investors’ money.

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin has imposed a $1.1M fine on LPL Financial (LPLA) after finding that the brokerage firm did not properly register 651 of its advisors in the state. Galvin’s office contends that for six years, LPL let these brokers work in Massachusetts despite the lack of registration and that this violates the state’s securities laws.

In Massachusetts, a brokerage firm is required to register its agents before they are allowed to engage in securities-related business in the state. As of May 9, LPL had 4,219 agents who were registered in the state.

However, the lack of registration by 651 of its agents between March 2013 and April 4, 2019 prevented Massachusetts securities regulators from being able to check their qualifications and histories to ensure that investors who worked with them were in safe hands. 441 of these unregistered agents acted as financial advisors to at least one or more state residents during the period at issue. The other 210 agents supervised the agents who were advisors to these customers.

Jason Nelson, an ex-LPL Financial broker (LPLA), is now barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The bar comes after Nelson refused to participate in the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO) probe into his sales activities.

LPL fired Nelson early last year after finding that he misrepresented customer financial information related to annuity sales. Without denying or admitting to FINRA’s findings, Nelson consented to the entry of findings and the bar. He worked nearly 14 years as a formerly registered broker. Previous to working with LPL Financial, Nelson was an Edward Jones broker.

It was just last month that FINRA permanently barred ex-LPL Financial broker Philip John Nalesnik, whom the broker-dealer also fired last year.

On May 17, 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) issued a permanent bar against former Pennsylvania LPL Financial representative Philip John Nalesnik.

According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records, Nalesnik was in the securities industry for roughly 17 years, from 2002 until he was kicked out in 2019.  Nalesnik previously worked at IDS Life Insurance Company, American Express Financial Advisors, CCO Investment Advisors and, for almost a decade, LPL Financial, LLC.

Prior to receiving his FINRA bar, Nalesnik had a very questionable regulatory history.  Nalesnik’s CRD shows that he has had at least five customer complaints, one criminal complaint, at least two tax liens and a personal bankruptcy, much of which happened while Nalesnik was a registered representative of LPL Financial.

According to the Texas State Securities Board, LPL Financial (LPLA) will pay a $450K fine and buy back unregistered securities. The Consent Order noted that the settlement is part of the wider $26M one reached between the brokerage firm and state securities regulators in 2018.

In its deal with Texas, LPL agreed to buy back unregistered securities that it sold to investors in the state going as far back as Oct 1, 2006. LPL will pay “3% interest per year on the value of the securities either in damages if they were sold or by repurchasing the investments.” Similar terms were part of the wider agreement offered to all US states and territories regarding how to compensate investors who were sold unregistered stocks and fixed-income securities.

In January, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced his state’s settlement with LPL, which involved buying back these same types of securities, along with 3% simple interest annually, from investors. Aside from its restitution and rescission offers to Maryland investors, the brokerage firm agreed to pay a $499K civil penalty.

79 investment advisers have settled charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accusing them of not properly disclosing conflicts of interests involving the sale of costlier mutual fund share classes that caused them to earn more fees. The regulator’s action is related to its Share Class Section Disclosure Initiative. Announced by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement early last year, the initiative gives firms the chance to report disclosure failures that violate the Advisers Act, while offering them more “favorable settlement terms” in return.

Here is a partial list of some of the investment advisers involved in this case:

  • AXA Advisors

Sonya Camarco, an ex-LPL Financial (LPLA) broker, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after she admitted to stealing $1.8M from clients. Camarco, who worked for the brokerage firm in Colorado, was indicted by a grand jury last year on multiple counts of securities fraud. She pleaded guilty to one count of each.

According to the broker fraud case against her, between 2013 and 2017, Camaro stole over $1.8M from clients for her own use. In August 2017, LPL Financial fired her. That same month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission was able to get an emergency court order and asset freeze against Camarco. The SEC’s complaint said that the theft took place over 13 years and the ex-LPL broker lied to clients about the money she was taking from their accounts.

The SEC also accused Camarco of forging client signatures on checks and liquidating securities in their accounts so she could make unauthorized payments. When clients asked about the checks written to an entity named “C Investments”, Camarco lied by claiming that the entity was an outside investment she had made for them. The former broker also allegedly lied when LPL Financial confronted her about the fraud. All the while, she used client money to pay her mortgage and credit card bills.

In an agreement reached with the North American State Securities Administrators Association, LPL Financial (LPLA) will pay $26M in fines to a number of US states and jurisdictions over unregistered securities sales going back more than a decade. NASAA reports that the settlement comes after a task force was set up last summer to probe LPL’s sales of unregistered, non-exempt  securities to clients.  Now, LPL will pay $499K to each state securities regulator.  It also must buy back certain securities that it sold to investors going as far back as October 2006.

Details of the LPL Settlement for the Sale of Unregistered Securities 

Per the settlement, LPL will offer to repurchase securities in the brokerage firm’s accounts that were found to have been unregistered, fixed-income or non-exempt equity securities. Every buyback offer will come with 3% simple interest annually. Requirements were also put in place for investors with “affected securities” that were moved or sold from an LPL account.

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