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.
Mr. Rowe’s Brokercheck also reveals two prior settlements of customer complaints in 2005 and 2009 related to allegations of unsuitable trades.
Loans from customers to FINRA registered financial advisors are generally prohibited by FINRA Rules, with a couple minor exceptions. Loans between customers and advisors may often be used by advisors to hide conversion, theft of monies, or other wrongful conduct. FINRA Rule 3240 sets out the limited exceptions to the general prohibition, including loans between family members, and situations involving relationships between the parties outside the customer-broker relationship. Even under those limited circumstances, the loans have to be allowed by the firm, and have to be approved by the firm.
Virginia securities regulations, and those of many other states, also prohibit loans between securities brokers and customers. See 21 VAC 5-20-280 which consider the following to be a violation of duties to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade: “1. Engage in the practice of lending or borrowing money or securities from a customer, or acting as a custodian for money, securities or an executed stock power of a customer.”
The Virginia securities fraud attorneys at Greco & Greco have represented multiple customers in FINRA arbitrations over the years involved in recommended loans to securities salespersons in violation of FINRA Rules and state regulations. If you would like to discuss your situation with an attorney at no charge, please contact Scott Greco for a free attorney consultation.