Articles Tagged with FINRA

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred a financial advisor from Alexandria, Virginia who had been registered with Wells Fargo Clearing Services LLC.  According to the FINRA AWC (Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent), FINRA began an investigation into whether Paul Trimber “converted a senior customer’s funds for his personal use and benefit…”  Mr. Trimber allegedly refused to produce documents in response to FINRA’s requests in the investigation, resulting in FINRA’s bar from Mr. Trimber associating with any FINRA member.

According to FINRA’s Brokercheck report, Mr. Trimber was terminated by Wells Fargo in February 2024 for the following reason:  “Financial Advisor discharged after he admitted during review to making unauthorized transfers of client funds to recipients outside of the Firm.”

Financial Advisors occupy positions of trust and access to accounts that unfortunately can result in the theft of customer funds.  In such situations, the brokerage firms for which the advisor is registered also bear responsibility for their advisors’ criminal actions, and also can be found liable for failures to supervise the wrongful activity.

FINRA, a regulator of the securities industry, recently barred North Carolina broker Christina Peterman after she failed to respond to a FINRA request for information and documents.  The Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent states that the investigation related to a filing by her Broker-Dealer firm, Truist Investment Services, Inc. stating that she had been discharged based on the allegation that she “accessed client information without a business purpose and engaged in unauthorized client transactions.”

Unauthorized trading by investment advisors is generally considered to be a fraudulent activity.  Typically, unless discretion to trade without speaking to the customer is granted to the broker in writing, the broker is required to obtain permission for all transactions for the customer after discussing the relevant factors which form the basis for a recommended trade.

Greco & Greco has represented North Carolina investors for decades in FINRA arbitrations based on wrongful conduct by stock brokers and their brokerage firms.  If you believe you may have been harmed by a broker’s bad acts, please contact Securities Fraud Lawyer Scott Greco for a free attorney consultation about your case.

 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has issued a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) against LPL Financial LLC, a notable member firm in the securities industry. The AWC alleges a series of alleged rule violations that occurred over several years, painting a picture of insufficient supervision and inaccurate information dissemination to customers. Let’s delve into the details of this regulatory action and what it means for investors and the securities industry at large.

Background: LPL Financial LLC

LPL Financial LLC, a long-standing member of FINRA since 1973, operates as a significant player in the securities industry and is one of the larger “independent” FINRA firms. Headquartered in Fort Mill, South Carolina, LPL boasts a considerable network, with over 27,000 registered representatives across more than 18,000 branch offices.  Most advisors who are registered with independent firms operate out of small one or two advisor offices.  Although independent firms have the same supervisory duties and more traditional firms with big branch offices, proper supervision does not always occur.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently issued a disciplinary order against Christopher Booth Kennedy, a former registered representative with Western International Securities, for a series of egregious violations. The order which can be found here, stemming from a complaint filed by FINRA’s Department of Enforcement, outlines Kennedy’s misconduct between July 2020 and July 2021. During this period, Kennedy engaged in churning and excessive trading in the accounts of six customers, resulting in significant financial losses.  The Order bars Kennedy from associating with a FINRA firm.

Kennedy’s actions, as detailed in the findings and conclusions of the order, paint a troubling picture of misconduct and deceit. He directed over 5,300 trades totaling more than $350 million in the accounts of six customers, with an average of 102 trades per account each month. These excessive transactions generated substantial commissions for Kennedy while causing substantial losses for his clients. Moreover, Kennedy went to lengths to conceal the true extent of these losses by fabricating account statements and providing false information to his clients.

The disciplinary order found Kennedy in violation of several securities regulations, including Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Regulation Best Interest, and various FINRA rules.

Lickhai Quach, a Silver Spring, Maryland broker/agent of Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc., was recently barred by FINRA from association with any FINRA firm.  The FINRA Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent states that Mr. Quach refused to produce documents or information to investigators as required by FINRA Rule 8210.

Mr. Quach was allegedly under investigation by FINRA as a result of being permitted to resign “while under review by the firm for violating firm’s policy related to borrowing funds from a client.”  Mr. Quach’s FINRA Brokercheck report states that he was registered with Transamerica since 2012.  The report further states that he had one recent customer complaint relating to borrowed funds that settled, and that he was permitted to resign in March, 2023.

Registered financial advisors are generally prohibited from borrowing money from customers under FINRA Rule 3240 except in limited circumstances such as from a family member or other personal relationship.  The loan must also be disclosed and approved by the advisor’s firm.

Miche Jean was a registered securities salesperson with Morgan Stanley in Rockville, Maryland since 2015. However, on November 12, 2020, Morgan Stanley submitted a Termination Notice (Form U5), indicating that they terminated Jean’s employment due to concerns related to his trading strategy for certain clients, potential unauthorized discretion in specific accounts, and incomplete and delayed communication with clients regarding transactions. Furthermore, on March 30, 2021, an amended Form U5 disclosed a customer complaint alleging unauthorized trading with exchange-traded funds (ETFs) during Jean’s tenure at Morgan Stanley.

Then, on November 15, 2022, the Maryland Securities Commissioner issued a Consent Order in which Jean admitted to fraudulent actions during his time with Morgan Stanley in Maryland. Specifically, he was found to have initiated four ACH transfers, totaling $10,182, from a Morgan Stanley customer’s brokerage account to cover his personal credit card expenses.

FINRA, a national self-regulatory securities regulator, recently barred Mr. Miche from the industry pursuant to a decision by its Office of Hearing Officers.

On July 25, 2023, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) against LPL Financial LLC, a prominent independent securities broker headquartered in Fort Mill, South Carolina. This disciplinary action followed a series of egregious violations that involved the conversion/theft of approximately $2.4 million of customer funds by two of the firm’s brokers.

Background

The AWC against LPL Financial LLC was the result of a failure to reasonably supervise the transmittal of customer funds, which enabled two firm registered representatives to convert substantial sums of money for their personal use. The findings by FINRA in the AWC are outlined below:

FINRA has announced on its website that it has barred Tennessee financial advisor D. Wray Rodgers of Collierville.  According to FINRA’s Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent, Mr. Rodgers was registered with the firm Vining-Sparks IBG, LLC, and FINRA had begun an investigation regarding “whether Rodgers engaged in an outside business activity without providing prior written notice to his member firm and whether he misused customer funds.”

Vining-Sparks had filed a U-5 filing for Mr. Rodgers stating that he had voluntarily resigned from the firm in May 2022.  According to the AWC, Mr. Rodgers failed to appear for related on the record testimony, and he and FINRA agreed to a sanction of a bar from registering with FINRA securities Broker-Dealers.

Mr. Rodgers’ FINRA Brokercheck report shows one customer complaint relating to an alleged failure to disclose risk from 2011, with a $105,000.00 settlement.

FINRA announced last month that it has barred Charlotte, North Carolina based financial advisor Christopher J. Carpenter.  The FINRA Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent states that Mr. Carpenter failed to produce documents or information requested in response to a FINRA investigation.

The investigation allegedly was initiated in response to a Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5), reporting Carpenter’s discharge from his firm, LPL Financial. The Form U5 stated that LPL was reviewing Carpenter’s “alleged participation in unapproved real estate investments with customers.”

Mr. Carpenter’s FINRA Brokercheck report states that he was registered with LPL in Charlotte from 2020 to 2023, and prior to that he was registered with Spire Securities.

Our securities fraud blog has previously addressed the risks to investors regarding inverse and leveraged ETFs.  A new type of ETF has emerged, however, which can carry even higher risks.  The North American Securities Administrators Association recently issued an advisory to investors regarding single stock ETFs.  Inverse and leveraged single stock ETFs are complex instruments which attempt to multiply the returns of a single stock when it goes up (leveraged) or down (inverse).

These investments obviously carry higher risks than if an investor just invests in a single stock, and can include similar risks to using margin to purchase more shares of a stock than you can afford with cash, or risk shorting a stock in the hope that the price declines.  Additionally, similar to inverse and leveraged ETFs that are spread over a sector of stocks, these ETFs reset daily, so if they are held for more than a day the price of the ETF can diverge significantly from the price of the underlying stock.

Financial advisors should not be recommending or purchasing these types of ETFs for retail investors unless the investor understands the risks involved and can afford to take those risks.  Such a recommendation should be suitable and in the best interest of the customer.  If you have lost monies in a single stock ETF that you did not understand or that was not suitable for your risk tolerance, please contact W. Scott Greco for a free attorney consultation about your potential case.

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