Articles Tagged with Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley Ordered To Pay Over $300K In Fines And Restitution

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Galvin, is ordering Morgan Stanley (MS) to pay a $200K fine, as well as $182K in restitution to four customers who suffered losses while working with former broker Justin E. Amaral. 

The ex-Morgan Stanley financial advisor was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in 2015. 

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined former Texas broker Steven Yellen $25K for allegedly making unauthorized trades while he was a registered representative for both Ameriprise (AMP) and Morgan Stanley (MS). The self-regulatory authority (SRO) notes at least 30 instances in which Yellen executed trades without customer authorization.

After more than 30 years in the industry, he is no longer affiliated with any broker-dealer after Ameriprise fired him last year. According to FINRA, from 3/2013 to 12/2015, Yellen  made 14 unauthorized trades while he was a Morgan Stanley broker, exercising unauthorized discretion in a client’s account. Meantime, when filling out compliance questionnaires, he neglected to disclose these activities.

In 2016, after 32 years with Morgan Stanley, Steven Yellen became an Ameriprise broker. During this time, he allegedly made 16 unauthorized trades in 10 customer accounts. These trades went beyond these customers’ risk levels that they’d authorized.

SSEK Investigating The Ex-Morgan Stanley Broker, Ami Forte

Earlier this year, our investor lawyers reported that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) had filed a lawsuit against former Morgan Stanley broker, Ami Forte. She allegedly made unauthorized trades in the now-deceased Home Shopping Network co-founder, Roy Speer’s, account while he was afflicted with dementia. 

The self-regulatory authority has now announced that it is barring Forte. Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are currently investigating complaints and concerns by former customers of Ami Forte who are suspecting that their losses may be due to fraud. 

Misconduct Accusations Against Ex-Morgan Stanley Brokers

Broker Misconduct Case #1: John Tillotson

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has suspended ex-Morgan Stanley broker, John Tillotson, for 15 days and ordered him to pay a $5K fine after finding that he impersonated five clients during phone calls to a mutual fund company. This was so he could move their retirement money to the firm. 

A Former Morgan Stanley (MS) broker who was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) last year has pleaded guilty to defrauding his clients of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Elias Herbert Hafen was a registered Morgan Stanley rep. from 2009 until 2018 and then briefly went to work for Wells Fargo Clearing Services. According to his BrokerCheck record, Wells Fargo (WFC) fired him after just several months because he had financial agreements with clients that the firm never approved.

A news release of Hafen’s guilty plea on Justice.gov states that between 2013 and 2018, Hafen defrauded at least 11 financial advisory clients by fooling them into thinking he was able to access a high yield investment fund that came with guaranteed investment returns. This fund, however, was not affiliated with the investment bank where Hafen was a registered broker. In fact, it did not exist.

Because of Hafen’s investment advice, a number of his clients moved hundreds of thousands of dollars to his own bank account, from where he was supposed to invest in the fund. Instead, he generated fake bank statements using the name of an investment company that didn’t exist and, rather than use investors’ funds as intended, Hafen spent their money to fund his luxury lifestyle.

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.

David Strnad, a longtime broker, has been suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for 18 months. According to his BrokerCheck record, in 2016, the daughter of a client accused Strnad of churning in her father’s account while he was a registered Morgan Stanley representative. Following the allegations, FINRA opened a probe into the matter.

The self-regulatory authority (FINRA) found that Strnad made over 270 trades involving CDs in the account of one elderly customer between 2013 and 2015. While the client had given the former Morgan Stanley broker permission to purchase the CDs, Strnad allegedly exceeded the authority granted to him when he sold the CDs before they matured and used the money made from those transactions to purchase more CDs for the client.

As a result, said FINRA, the client ended up paying nearly $4300 commissions that were not warranted. Morgan Stanley has since paid that money back to the client.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel has awarded $519,000 to Stephen and Brenda Balock in their investor fraud claim against Morgan Stanley (MS). The couple contends that that one of the firm’s brokers, Tim J. Prouty, placed their funds in investments that were complex and inappropriate for them, causing them to lose money in eight accounts between 2012 and 2015. They filed their claim against Morgan Stanley in 2016.

The Balocks began working with Prouty after Stephen’s employer, the Public Service Co. of New Mexico, compelled him into early retirement due to downsizing. He had never worked with a broker before then.

The couple wanted to invest in certificates of deposit. Instead, Prouty placed them in a Morgan Stanley investment advisory program that involved more complex investments, such as options contracts, derivates, junk bonds, and exchange-traded funds. In their investor claim against Morgan Stanley, the Balocks made a number of allegations, including the following:

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel is ordering Morgan Stanley (MS) to pay a claimant $454,813 for retirement fund mismanagement. The claimant is The Carpenter Law Firm Defined Benefit Plan. The Carpenter Law Firm is based in Iowa.

According to the FINRA award, the law firm contends that Morgan Stanley did not put together an investment strategy that was appropriate for its defined benefit plan. This allegedly led to “excessive cash and a concentration” in just one area of the S & P.

InvestmentNews reports that the mismanagement that the Carpenter Law Firm is claiming occurred was first noticed in 2017 when one of the firm’s attorneys became concerned that his retirement portfolio may not have been properly allocated over the past ten years. The lawyer handed his portfolio over to Morgan Stanley broker, Michael Lee Canney, in 2007. Among the concerns was that market-timing had caused the broker to be “out of the market in cash” during both the account’s beginning and end. Also, over half of the portfolio was made up of closed-end funds that were purchased from Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley (MS) has agreed to a $150M settlement with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to resolve claims that it misled investors about the risks involved in mortgage-backed securities, which both pension funds purchased from 2003 to 2007. CalSTRS and CalPERS lost millions of dollars from investing in these MBSs prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

In a news release, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Morgan Stanley of placing profits over the pension funds’ public employees and teachers when the firm didn’t fully disclose the MBSs’ risks. These complex investments package together thousands of mortgage loans, and not all of the loans share the same level of quality.

Mr. Becerra’s office, which conducted a probe into Morgan Stanley’s handling of MBS sales, found that the brokerage firm did not “accurately” portray many of the underlying mortgages’ “true” traits. Meanwhile, the broker-dealer allegedly overstated the quality of certain subprime loans, including those from New Century Financial, which eventually went bankrupt. Morgan Stanley is accused of knowing about these misrepresentations but doing nothing to remedy the matter.

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