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shutterstock_22722853-300x204Broker Tom Parks (Parks) has been subject to a massive number of customer complaints alleging many millions in damages.  Parks was associated with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) until April 2016.  According BrokerCheck the customer complaints largely involve claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas, variable annuities, and REITs.  In particular, many of the complaints mention master limited partnership (MLPs).  In total, 23 customers have brought complaints involving Parks’ actions.  In addition, Ameriprise terminated Park stating that Parks was permitted to resign while the broker was on heightened supervision for violations of company policy related to suitability, client disclosure, and outgoing correspondence issues.  The securities lawyers of Gana LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Parks.

Our clients tell us similar stories that their advisors hyped MLPs and other oil and gas investments as high yielding investments without significant discussion of risk.  In a recent Associated Press article, common stories of how investors are pitched by their financial advisors on oil and gas private placements were reported on. Often times these products are pitched as ways to ride the boom in U.S. oil and gas production and receive steady streams of income.

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shutterstock_178565714-300x200Gana LLP is investigating new customer complaints filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Aaron Robert Parthemer (Parthemer). Our firm has been investigating Parthemer since 2015, when Parthemer was barred from FINRA for engaging in private securities transactions, also known as “selling away”. According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records for Parthemer, there are 4 new disclosures on his record since his last regulatory action in 2015. These disclosures including customer complaints against Parthemer alleging unsuitable and unauthorized investments, and misrepresentation. Parthemer was barred permanently from FINRA on April 2015. His registration to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, a self-regulatory organization, was revoke in September 2015.

The most current customer complaint pending against Parthemer is from May 2017, alleging Parthemer made unsuitable investments starting in 2009 when Parthemer was employed at Wells Fargo Advisors and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. During Parthemer’s stint at Morgan Stanley, the client alleged that Parthemer presented outside investment opportunities that he had a personal interest in, which was unauthorized by the firm. The customer alleged damages of $1,622,844.00.

A second customer complaint was submitted in September 2016 regarding Parthemer’s actions while employed at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. The customer alleged that Parthemer solicited the client to invest in outside investments that were not authorized by Morgan Stanley. The alleged damages are $205,000.00 and is still pending.

shutterstock_177577832-300x300The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints and a FINRA enforcement action with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Henry Watson (Watson). According to BrokerCheck records, Watson has been subject to three customer complaints and one FINRA action. The customer complaints against Watson allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, portfolio mismanagement, and excessive trading among other claims.

The most recent claim was filed in October 2016 alleging Watson purchased shares of a security from without authorization seeking $13,017.  Subsequently in January 2017 FINRA barred Watson for failing to appear to testify concerning an arbitration claim.  FINRA claimed that the testimony was requested in connection with an inquiry into an arbitration claim filed by a customer against Watson.  FINRA alleged that Watson acknowledges that he received FINRA’s request but would not appear for on-the-record testimony at any time resulting in the bar.

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shutterstock_138129767-300x199The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Margaret Lech-Loubet (Lech-Loubet).  According to BrokerCheck records Lech-Loubet has been in the securities industry for 25 years and has two customer complaints on her record.  Lech-Loubet is currently registered with UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS) out of the firm’s Beverly Hills, California office location.  The most recent customer complaints against Lech-Loubet alleges that Lech-Loubet concentrated the client in energy related structured products and master limited partnerships (MLPs).

The most recent complaint was filed in January 2017 and alleged that from June 2014 to November 2015 the investments were not suitable and were told the investments were safer than equities.  The customer is claiming $285,582 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_182004416-300x200Broker John Oldham (Oldham) was recently sanctioned by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in an enforcement action.  According to the FINRA AWC (Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent 2015046203101) FINRA found that Oldham consented to sanctions that he shared commissions from the sales of alternative investments with an unregistered entity. According to FINRA, Oldham facilitated the sales of the alternative investments totaling more than $4.8 million to customers referred to him and shared commissions with the unregistered entity in the amount of $240,000 for these transactions.  FINRA found that while Oldham executed subscription agreements on behalf of the third-party, in some instances this representation on those forms were inaccurate because Oldham had not communicated with the customer who had executed the subscription agreement.

The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the regulatory complaint against Oldham.  In addition to the regulatory action, there is one employment termination for cause listed for Oldham alleging possible violation of FINRA Rule 2040.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including oil and gas partnerships, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

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shutterstock_114128113-300x238The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Craig Sutherland (Sutherland) currently associated with Money Concepts Capital Corp (Money Concepts). According to BrokerCheck records, Sutherland has been subject to seven customer complaints. The customer complaints against Sutherland allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims.

Several of the claims involve allegations of high risk investments in Tanzania Royalty Exploration, variable annuities, non-traded REITs such as American Realty Capital Healthcare, and oil and gas related investments.  Variable annuities and non-traded REITs are high risk investments that brokers often sell to generate large commissions to the detriment of their clients.

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shutterstock_158028338-300x298The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against current The O.N. Equity Sales Company (O.N. Equity) broker Richard Wesselt (Wesselt). Wesselt operates his securities practice under an d/b/a entity called Wesselt Capital Group.  According to BrokerCheck records, Wesselt has been subject to seven customer complaints over the course of his career and one termination for cause. The most recent customer complaint against Wesselt occurred in August 2016 and alleged that sale of variable annuity and life insurance were unsuitable.  The claim alleged damages of $25,709 and settled.

Variable annuities are complex financial and insurance products.  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing.  A variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you.  The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen.  The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

However, the benefits of variable annuities are often outweighed by the terms of the contract that include exorbitant expenses such as surrender charges, mortality and expense charges, management fees, market-related risks, and rider costs.  Brokers often solicit these products to earn lucrative up front commissions even when the product is inappropriate for the investor.  In addition, some brokers will attempt to flip or switch annuities every couple of years which has the effect of further denying the investor of benefits while increasing commissions to the broker.

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shutterstock_20354398-300x200The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints and a FINRA enforcement action with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Michael Hebner (Hebner). According to BrokerCheck records, Hebner has been subject to five customer complaints and one employment termination for cause. The customer complaints against Hebner allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading among other claims.

Hebner was terminated in January 2015 by Wunderlich Securities, Inc. on allegations that Hebner failed to follow firm procedures regarding the approval and retention of correspondence.  The most recent claim was filed in January 2017 alleging Hebner made unsuitable recommendations from 2010 until 2014.  The customer claims that the activity caused $429,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_156562427-300x200Broker Daniel Vazquez (Vazquez) was recently sanctioned by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in an enforcement action that resulted in a permanent bar from the securities industry.  According to the FINRA AWC (Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent) FINRA found that Vazquez failed to request termination of his suspension within three months of the date of the suspension and was automatically barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.

The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the six customer complaints brought against Vazquez. In addition, Vazquez has one judgment or lien.  The customer complaints allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, an unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent claim was filed in December 2016 alleging Vazquez engaged in unsuitable trades causing $1,500,000 in damages.  The complaint is currently pending.  In August 2016 another investor filed a complaint alleging investment losses from trades made with Vazquez through two firms from 2013-2016 that were unsuitable.  The claim alleges $107,392.85 in damages and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_172034843-300x200Broker Clay Hoffman (Hoffman) was recently sanctioned by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in an enforcement action that led to a permanent bar against the broker.  According to BrokerCheck, FINRA found that Hoffman consented to sanctions that he executed discretionary transactions in a customer’s account without prior written authorization from the customer to exercise discretionary trading or approval by his brokerage firm.

The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are also investigating customer complaints against Hoffman.  There have been at least 14 customer complaints against Hoffman, four regulatory actions, and one employment termination for cause in Hoffman’s 14 year career.  The customer complaints against Hoffman allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unauthorized trading, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.

The most recent customer complaint was filed in April 2015 and alleges unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and misrepresentations causing $234,697 in damages.  The claim was settled.

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