Former Merrill Lynch Broker Kwok Chiu Sanctioned Over Unauthorized Discretionary Trading

shutterstock_186468539The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has sanctioned broker Kwok Chiu (Chiu) concerning allegations that between March and June 2013, while associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), Chiu exercised discretionary power in two customer accounts with only oral authorization by making 162 transactions without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers. Under NASD Conduct Rule 2510(b) Chiu was required to provide written authorization to his firm in order to engage in discretionary trading activity.

Chiu entered the securities industry in 1996. In 2005 he was became registered through Merrill Lynch until October 14, 2013, at which time Merrill Lynch filed a Uniform Termination Notice stating that Chiu was discharged for conduct involving the exercise of discretion in non- discretionary customer accounts. Thereafter, in October 2013, Chiu has become registered as a broker with Gilford Securities Incorporated.

In addition to FINRA’s claims, Chiu’s public disclosures reveal that the broker has been subject to at least four customer complaints. These statistics are troubling because so many customer complaints are rare. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. These disclosures do not necessarily have to include customer complaints but can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters. The number of brokers with multiple customer complaints is far smaller.  In Chiu’s case, all of the customers complaints involve allegations of unauthorized trading or failing to follow instructions of the client.

Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of unauthorized trading, churning, and unsuitable investments in high risk securities. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.