Articles Tagged with breach of fiduciary duty

shutterstock_177082523Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor Joshua Arnold (Arnold) currently registered with TradingBlock, alleging negligence, unsuitable recommendations, negligent supervision, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Arnold has been subject to ten customer complaints and three regulatory actions.

In September 2016 a customer filed a complaint alleging negligence and unsuitable recommendations that caused $250,000 in damages.  The broker denied all claims.  The claim is current pending.

In November 2015 another customer filed a complaint that Arnold failed to handle the account properly causing a tax penalty.  The claim was resolved for $37,500.

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shutterstock_103681238The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Marc Kalter (Kalter).  According to BrokerCheck records Kalter has been the subject of at least six customer complaints and two regulatory actions.  The customer complaints against Kalter allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in July 2016 and alleged breach of fiduciary duty and unsuitable investments causing $76,043 in damages.  The complaint is currently pending.  Also in March 2016 another investor filed a similar complaint and alleged breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, fraud, and churning causing $182,000 in damages.  The complaint is currently pending.

When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time.  Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities.  This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades.  Churning is considered a species of securities fraud.  The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions.  A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements.  Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim.  These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

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shutterstock_1744162The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Allan Montalbano (Montalbano). According to BrokerCheck records Montalbano has been the subject of at least four customer complaints and one bankruptcy filing. The customer complaints against Montalbano allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

In November 2015, Montalbano disclosed that he entered bankruptcy. The most recent customer complaint filed in June 2015 and alleged unsuitable recommendations and excessive trading claiming $250,000 in damages. The claim is still pending. In May 2013, another client filed a complaint alleging Montalbano failed to follow instructions. The claim closed.

When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

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shutterstock_191231699The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Marcious Dickerson (Dickerson). According to BrokerCheck records Dickerson has been the subject of 3 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Dickerson allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.   Many of the most recent claims involve allegations concerning non traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs).

As a background since the mid-2000s Non-Traded REITs became one of Wall Street’s hottest products. However, the failure of Non-Traded REITs to perform as well as their publicly traded counterparts has called into question if Non-Traded REITs should be sold at all and if so should there be a limit on the amount a broker can recommend. See Controversy Over Non-Traded REITs: Should These Products Be Sold to Investors? Part I

Non-Traded REITs are securities that invest in different types of real estate assets such as commercial, residential, or other specialty niche real estate markets such as strip malls, hotels, storage, and other industries. Non-traded REITs are sold only through broker-dealers, are illiquid, have no or limited secondary market and redemption options, and can only be liquidated on terms dictated by the issuer, which may be changed at any time and without prior warning.

Investors are also often ignorant to several other facts that would warn against investing in Non-Traded REITs. First, only 85% to 90% of investor funds actually go towards investment purposes. In other words, investors have lost up to 15% of their investment to fees and costs on day one in a Non-Traded REIT. Second, often times part or almost all of the distributions that investors receive from Non-Traded REITs include a return of capital and not actual revenue generated from the properties owned by the REIT. The return of capital distributions reduces the ability of the REIT to generate income and/or increases the investment’s debt or leverage.

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shutterstock_88744093The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Kyle Harrington (Harrington). According to BrokerCheck records Harrington has been subject to 6 customer complaints, one regulatory action, one employment separation, and one financial disclosure. The customer complaints against Harrington allege securities law violations that including misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims.   The regulatory finding was made by FINRA which alleged that Harrington failed to disclose certain information that had to be disclosed on Harrington’s Form U4. The employment separation by Matrix Capital Group, Inc. (Matrix) also concerns allegations of failure to disclose reportable information.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

The number of events listed on Harrington brokercheck is high relative to his peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.

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shutterstock_143094109The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Daniel McPherson (McPherson). According to BrokerCheck records McPherson is subject to two customer complaints. The customer complaints against McPherson allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.   The claims appear to relate to allegations regard direct participation products and limited partnerships such as equipment leasing and non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs). Other products complained of include oil and gas private placements and tenant-in–common (TIC) investments.

Our firm has written numerous times about investor losses in these types of programs and private placement securities. All of these investments come with costs that make profiting from the investment extremely unlikely. For example, investors are destined to lose money in equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. The high costs and fees associated with these investments make significant returns virtual impossibility. Yet for all of their costs investors are in no way compensated for the additional risks of these products.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_183010823The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Stanley Keyes (Keyes). According to BrokerCheck records Keyes is subject to 5 customer complaints, 1 regulatory action, and 2 employment separations. The customer complaints against Keyes allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.

The most recent regulatory action was filed by FINRA in November 2010 and alleged that Keyes borrowed a total of $214,000 from customers and used that money to meet personal financial obligations. FINRA alleged that Keyes failed to disclose the existence of these loans to his firm. FINRA fined Keyes $5,000 and suspended the broker for three months. Prior to that FSC Securities Corporation terminated Keyes alleging that the broker had borrowed money from firm customers in violation of the firm’s policies.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_188606033The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Marshall Cassedy (Cassedy). According to BrokerCheck records Cassedy is subject to 17 customer complaints, 3 regulatory actions, and one employment separation. The customer complaints against Cassedy allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, churning (excessive trading), unauthorized trading, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.

The most recent regulatory action was filed by the State of Florida in 2010 and alleged unauthorized trading and unregistered activity. Prior to that, Capitol Securities Management, Inc. terminated Cassedy alleging that the broker had customer complaints concerning violations of the firm’s policies with respect to the handling of their accounts. In 2006, the State of Georgia filed a regulatory action against Cassedy alleging that the broker failed to disclose another regulatory investigation by the State of Florida. That investigation was filed in 2005 and alleged unsuitable securities.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_189006551The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Johnathan McHale (McHale). According to BrokerCheck records there are at least 6 customer complaints, one employment separation for cause, and 6 judgments or liens that have been filed against McHale. The most recent customer complaint against McHale filed in April 2014 alleges that McHale breached his fiduciary duty, negligence, and misrepresentations in the handling of the customer’s account leading to $108,000 in damages. The claim was settled for $14,995. In August 2012, another client alleged that McHale engaged in unsuitable investments leading to $43,000 in damages. The claim was denied.

In May 2014, National Securities Corporation terminated McHale alleging that he violated the firm’s policy by using his personal email address for business correspondence. In addition, McHale has 6 judgements. One tax lien filed in March 2011 for $34,598. Substantial judgements and liens on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services. A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_112866430The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Shaun Stein (Stein). According to BrokerCheck records there are at least 3 customer complaints against Stein. The customer complaints against Stein allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims. The most recent customer complaint filed in July 2015 alleged churning and mishandling of the account claiming $60,000 in damages. The claim is still pending. In June 2014, another client filed a complaint alleging unsuitable investments, fraud, unfair trade practices and other claims claiming damages of $75,000. The claim has been closed.

As a background, when brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

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