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FINRA recently issued a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent relating to J.P. Morgan broker Edward Turley from San Francisco, California that resulted in Mr. Turley being barred from the securities industry by FINRA.

The letter alleges that Mr. Turley has been registered with J.P. Morgan Securities LLC since 2009, and that he was terminated by J.P. Morgan in 2021 for “[l]oss of confidence concerning adherence to firm policies and brokerage order handling requirements.”  According to FINRA, Mr. Turley has had five FINRA multi-million dollar arbitrations filed in 2020 – 2021 relating to allegations regarding sales practice violations and unsuitable trading.  One of these resulted in an arbitration award.

Mr. Turley apparently refused to provide on the record testimony to FINRA in response to a Rule 8210 Request.

FINRA recently barred Oshkosh, Wisconsin broker Anthony (Tony) Liddle who was registered with Landolt Securities.  The FINRA AWC states that it allegedly learned that Mr. Liddle had borrowed $1.8 million dollars from 13 customers, and that Mr. Liddle agreed to the FINRA bar.  FINRA Rules and most state securities regulations generally ban securities advisors from borrowing from customers.  Prior to Landolt Securities, Mr. Liddle was registered with Western International Securities in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Mr. Liddle’s FINRA Brokercheck states that Mr. Liddle was permitted to resign after allegations that he took GWG investment monies and deposited them in a Prosper Wealth Management Account.  The Brokercheck further lists five customer complaints alleging the stealing of assets and issuance of promissory notes.

Greco & Greco has extensive experience representing customers of financial advisors across the country who steal funds and assets and/or borrow monies from customers.  Please contact W. Scott Greco for a free attorney consultation if you believe you may be a victim of Mr. Liddle or other advisors who engaged in wrongful conduct.

The United States Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued a Staff Bulletin which discussed the use of sales contests or other sales incentives by FINRA Broker-Dealer firms in the context of SEC Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI).

Reg BI, 17 CFR 240-15l-1, specifically describes the “best interest” obligation as follows in section (a)(1):

“A broker, dealer, or a natural person who is an associated person of a broker or dealer, when making a recommendation of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities (including account recommendations) to a retail customer, shall act in the best interest of the retail customer at the time the recommendation is made, without placing the financial or other interest of the broker, dealer, or natural person who is an associated person of a broker or dealer making the recommendation ahead of the interest of the retail customer.”

Shawn Edward Good, who was a registered broker with Morgan Stanley it its Wilmington, North Carolina office, was recently barred by FINRA by consent agreement.  Mr. Good also has a pending SEC Complaint against him alleging the following involvement in a ponzi scheme:

  • From 2012 until 2022 Mr. Good solicited customers to transfer funds to his personal bank account, allegedly for investments in real estate and government bonds.
  • In ponzi scheme fashion, the transferred monies were used to repay earlier customers who had also invested, in addition to payment of Mr. Good’s personal expenses.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a Complaint charging a Broker-Dealer for the first time with a violation of the recently enacted Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI).  The subject of the Complaint was Western International Securities, and five of its registered brokers, Nancy Cole, Patrick Egan, Andy Gitipityapon, Steven Graham, and Thomas Swan.

The Complaint alleges that Western and its brokers sold high risk and potentially illiquid L bonds issued by GWG Holdings, Inc., with many of the sales to customers on fixed incomes and with moderate risk tolerances.  The SEC’s press release alleged that the Defendants “failed to comply with Reg BI’s “Care Obligation” both because they did not exercise reasonable diligence, care, and skill to understand the risks, rewards, and costs associated with L Bonds, and also because they recommended L Bonds to at least seven particular customers without a reasonable basis to believe the bonds were in their customers’ best interests.”

The SEC also claimed that the activities and sales violated the compliance component of Reg BI which requires firms to establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with Reg BI.

Former Richmond, Virginia Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. financial advisor Warren E. Rowe Jr. was barred from the securities industry by FINRA recently after an investigation related to alleged loans taken from customers.

According the the FINRA Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent found here, Mr. Rowe refused to provide documents in response to a request of FINRA investigators.  The AWC, signed by Mr. Rowe, imposed a bar on Mr. Rowe’s association with any FINRA member in all capacities.

Mr. Rowe’s FINRA Brokercheck report reveals that he voluntarily resigned from Oppenheimer in May 2020 after an allegation that he took a loan from a client without disclosing it to the firm.  The report also references multiple customer complaints related to alleged loans, as well as complaints related to unauthorized trading, and inappropriate margin use.  Interestingly, a customer complaint regarding a loan made after his separation from Oppenheimer is still listed as “denied” by the firm.

The U.S. Department of Labor has sounded a warning regarding 401(k) plan investments in cryptocurrencies. In Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01 (issued March 10, 2022), 401(k) plan fiduciaries are urged to “exercise extreme care before they consider adding a cryptocurrency option to a 401(k) plan’s investment menu for plan participants.” Because of the risks and uncertainties associated with cryptocurrencies, the guidance document raises “serious concerns about the prudence of a fiduciary’s decision to expose a 401(k) plan’s participants to direct invest in cryptocurrencies or other products whose value is tied cryptocurrencies.”

Under federal laws governing retirement plans (commonly known as ERISA), the investment manager of a 401(k) plan is considered a fiduciary, who must act solely in the financial interests of the plan participants.  Courts hold fiduciaries to very high standards of professional care and prudence.  When these standards are breached, the asset manager can be held personally liable for the losses resulting from the breach. For 401(k) plans, the fiduciary is obligated to evaluate independently which investments are suitable to include in the investment options from which plan participants may choose.  Offering imprudent investment options to participants is considered a breach of duty.

The Department of Labor identified several areas of concern that make cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-tied products exceptionally risky investments for 401(k) participants.

Greco & Greco represented a retired Northern Virginia couple in a NASD arbitration seeking the recovery of savings lost by their stockbroker which they had intended to use to buy a new house. The broker had invested all of their life savings and house sale proceeds in the stock market through the use of a money manager. The arbitration panel awarded the couple $195,000 in damages (an amount higher than their out-of-pocket losses), $65,000 in attorneys’ fees, and interest from July, 2003. Read the NASD award.

Greco & Greco’s client was awarded her entire investment ($100,000) plus interest and 1/3 attorney’s fees by a Washington, D.C. FINRA arbitration panel. The award was entered jointly against the brokerage firm, despite its claims that it was unaware of its representative’s sale of the non-approved security, and its claim that a release barred the recovery. Read the FINRA award.

An NASD arbitration panel in Richmond recently awarded a disabled Charlottesville, Virginia woman represented by Greco & Greco all of her losses in her investment account ($60,530) plus interest. Her brokerage firm had unsuitably invested her account aggressively in growth stocks despite the woman’s need for income from the account for living expenses for the rest of her life. Read the NASD award.

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