COVID-19 UPDATE: We're Open and Ready to Serve Our ClientsLearn More Here

Articles Tagged with Merrill Lynch

Broker-Dealers Accused of Not Properly Supervising Custodial Accounts

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it has fined five major firms $1.4M in total for not reasonably supervising custodial accounts. The broker-dealers are:

  • Citigroup (C), which will pay $300K.

Fired Merrill Lynch Broker Barred By FINRA Indefinitely 

If you were an investor who sustained losses while working with Ma Rosa Linan Abrego, contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) today. Our brokerage firm misconduct lawyers work with clients who have suffered financial losses due to the negligent, fraudulent or other wrongful actions of their financial representatives. 

Ma Rosa Linan Abrego, based out of McAllen, Texas, was terminated by Merrill Lynch and recently barred indefinitely by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) from working as a financial advisor/stockbroker. 

In a recent award, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel has decided that Merrill Lynch must pay a former professional baseball player and his wife $1.7 million in compensatory damages, plus $88,758 in costs, for losses they sustained from investing in Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds. The retired MLB player is Angel Pagan and his wife is Windy Pagan, a former Ms. Puerto Rico. Angel was an outfielder for the NY Mets, the Chicago Cubs, and the San Francisco Giants before retiring to live on the island.

The couple invested $3.3M in the Puerto Rico bonds at the recommendation of their Merrill Lynch broker, Alex Jose Gierbolini (Gierbolini), who previously worked at UBS Financial Services of Puerto Rico (UBS). UBS has been the subject of thousands of investor claims for losses sustained when the Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds plunged in value beginning in 2013. It was while Gierbolini was a UBS financial representative that he sold to the Pagans the majority of their bonds.

Gierbolini continued to work with the couple when he moved to Merrill Lynch in 2012. They contend that Merrill Lynch and Gierbolini disregarded red flags indicating that the Puerto Rico bonds were headed downward. This left the Pagans’ portfolio overexposed.

Collateral Yield Enhancement Strategy (CYES) Damages: SSEK Investigating Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor 

Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas (SSEK), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors is looking into allegations against Gordon Harper, a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch out of Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Prior to that, he worked at Banc of America and Edward Jones. 

According to allegations in a recent Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) claim, Gordon Harper recommended something called Harvest Volatility Management CYES (also known as collateral yield enhancement strategy). Harvest is a money manager which, as the name implies, attempts to manage volatility. 

Merrill Lynch Sold Strategic Return Notes To Retail Investors 

If you are an investor who lost money from Strategic Return Notes (SRNs) that were sold by Bank of America’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch, please contact our investment fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LLP (SSEK Law Firm) today. 

The investment raised about $150M from their sales and caused substantial losses from many. SSEK Law Firm is committed to helping Strategic Return Notes investors to recoup their losses. 

Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas (“SSEK”), a law firm specializing in representing wronged investors, is looking into allegations by the SEC against former Merrill Lynch financial advisor, Marcus Boggs (“Boggs”).  Boggs reportedly joined Merrill Lynch in 2006, working in the company’s Chicago office.  The SEC has alleged that Boggs stole client funds in excess of $1.7 million.  The stolen assets were used to cover personal expenses, including credit card charges.  According to the SEC, Boggs sought to portray himself as a pillar of the Chicago community, involving himself with various charities and attending social events in an effort to ingratiate himself with the city elite. Also, according to the SEC, Boggs maintained he managed of $40 million in assets for his clients.

Merrill Lynch fired Boggs over the SEC charges in December of 2018.  Had Merrill been properly supervising Boggs, the company may have prevented some of the theft.  According to FINRA, Boggs has three complaints on his official record all involving unauthorized transfers from client accounts.  Merrill wisely sought resolution of these matters and it appears none have actually gone to hearing.

SSEK has experience in representing customers of financial advisors who either stole their money, or stole the money of other clients.  SSEK’s experience shows that before a financial advisor begins stealing money, he or she often does other things that are wrong for clients, such as unsuitable investing, churning, unauthorized trading or other misconduct.  Even after theft is uncovered, those other wrongs often go unnoticed and are never addressed without a customer hiring a law firm like SSEK.

Marcus Boggs, a former Merrill Lynch investment adviser, is now facing US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charges accusing him of using $1.7M of client monies to pay his own credit card bills. According to the regulator, Boggs, who was a Chicago-based RIA, illegally transferred funds from the accounts of three retail advisory clients on more than 200 occasions.

The firm fired him after finding out about the alleged misconduct, which would have taken place between 2016 and December 2018. Boggs was a registered investment adviser (RIA) with Merrill for 12 years, which was the entire time that he worked in the securities industry.

His job was to offer investment advice to clients, and Boggs didn’t have the authority or permission to liquidate the assets or trade in his alleged victims’ accounts. However, he allegedly went on to sell securities in said accounts and directly take money out of them for his own use.

Over the last several months, it has come to light that brokers from some of the largest firms on Wall Street firms sold Collateral Yield Investment Strategies (CYES Strategies) that may not have been suitable for many investors, causing them to suffer devastating losses. Offered through registered investment adviser Harvest Volatility Management, LLC, the CYES Strategy is a type of Yield Investment Strategy (YES Strategy), only even more risky and complex.

YES Strategy Investments

Reportedly, UBS (UBS), Credit Suisse (CS), Bank of America’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley (MS), and other brokerage firms brokers sold YES Strategies to many wealthy investors, touting the approach as safe way to increase returns on conservative portfolios. These were supposed to be small returns at a low risk, using a strategic approach that involved the purchasing and selling of SPX index options spreads.

The Puerto Rico Government Employees and Judiciary Retirement Systems Administration, a pension plan for retirees of the U.S. territory’s government, has filed a proposed securities class action in federal court against Bank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS), Citigroup (C), Barclays Capital, Inc. (BARC), BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Bank of America Securities, Credit Suisse Securities, FTN Financial Securities, Deutsche Bank Securities, JP Morgan Securities, Morgan Stanley (MS), Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, and UBS Securities. The retirement fund is accusing the defendants of rigging bond prices to keep the prices up on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bonds.

Freddie and Fannie, both U.S. government-sponsored entities (GSEs), offer bonds to raise money for loans. According to the Puerto Rico pension plan’s bond fraud case, the trading desks of the various banks worked together to artificially raise the prices of the GSE bonds when the market took a hit after the 2008 financial crisis and Fannie and Freddie started reducing the number of bonds issued for sale. This decrease led to a loss in profits for those underwriting and trading in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds. The plaintiff contends that instead of the banks opting to lower the difference between their purchasing and selling prices and competing for clients, they worked together to fix the bond prices so they could “maximize” their profits at the expense of customers.

The Puerto Rico retirement plan’s complaint comes weeks after another proposed class action was brought by two other pension funds also accusing banks of rigging the price of GSE bonds. The pension fund plaintiffs in that fraud case are the Trust and Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19 Pension Fund and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Employees’ Defined Benefit Retirement Plan. The defendants are Bank of America NA, Barclays Capital, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Deutsche Bank Securities, JPMorgan Securities, HSBS Bank Plc, HSBC Securities, JP Morgan Chase Bank, TD Securities, Nomura Securities International Inc., and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith.

Ex-Merrill Lynch Broker Will Pay $5M Penalty and Serve Time In Prison

A federal judge has sentenced Thomas Buck, an ex-Merrill Lynch broker, to 40 months in prison. Buck pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2017. As part of his plea, he admitted to lying to Merrill about telling clients about their account options, and, at certain times, making trades for them without getting their approval.

That year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had filed a complaint against Buck accusing him of making over $2.5M in excessive commissions and fees from more than four dozen clients. The SEC contends that Buck placed clients into accounts that charged them commissions instead of ones that were fee-based and not as costly. The regulator also accused him of making unauthorized trades. The Commission barred the former Merrill broker from the investment advisory and brokerage industries last year.

Contact Information