The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned and barred broker Michael Korson (Korson) concerning allegations that from February 2011 through August 2012, Korson failed to disclose to PFS Investments, Inc. (PFS) his involvement with an outside business (also referred to as “selling away”) called My Coupon Genie, Inc. (My Coupon Genie). In addition, FINRA alleged that between September 2011 and May 2014, while registered with PFS and also HBW Securities LLC (HBW) Korson participated in private securities transactions involving My Coupon Genie without providing prior written notice to either firm. FINRA also found that Korson misused My Coupon Genie investor funds by charging personal expenses to the company’s credit card.
Korson first became registered with FINRA on in 1991 as an Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Representative (Series 6) representative with PFS. Thereafter, on February 21, 2013, Korson’s registration with PFS was terminated and from January 27, 2014 through July 21, 2014, Korson was registered with HBW.
According to FINRA, Korson is the founder, chief executive officer, board member, and majority owner of My Coupon Genie, which purports to provides an on-line platform for retailers to share promotional offers on goods and services with consumers. PFS required its brokers to disclose and obtain preapproval for all outside business activities. FINRA found that PFS received notice of Korson’s involvement in My Coupon Genie on August 2, 2012, 18 months after Korson’s first involvement in the company.
FINRA alleged that after learning about My Coupon Genie from Korson, two of Korson’s PFS customers purchased convertible debentures issued by My Coupon Genie totaling $200,000. Thereafter, a My Coupon Genie sales consultant introduced Korson to another investor in the summer of 2012. FINRA found that on August 23, 2012, the investor purchased 4,750 shares of preferred My Coupon Genie stock for $990,000. FINRA also determined that on May 14, 2014, while Korson was registered with HBW, the investor made an additional $11,214 in My Coupon Genie.
The allegations against Korson are consistent with “selling away” securities violation. In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though the brokerage firm claim ignorance of their advisor’s activities, under the FINRA rules, a brokerage firm owes a duty to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion.
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 selling away and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.