The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred broker Raymond Schmidt (Schmidt) due to Schmidt’s refusal to respond to requests made by the agency. FINRA found that from approximately May 2009, through November 2012, Schmidt borrowed approximately $2.25 million from seven customers of LPL Financial LLC (LPL) and also engaged in outside business activities without notifying the firm. FINRA also alleged that between 2009 and 2014, Schmidt submitted five false compliance questionnaires and three false disclosures of outside business activities and loans to the firm.
In July 2006, Schmidt became associated with LPL. In a termination notice dated September 24, 2014, the LPL reported that on August 25, 2014, Schmidt had resigned while under internal review by LPL.
FINRA found that in or around May 2009, Schmidt purchased a real estate investment in Hawaii that he developed into a vacation rental property. In May 2012 that property opened for business. FINRA found that Schmidt was the sole owner and operator of the property and the business but failed to notify LPL of this outside business activity. FINRA alleged that from approximately May 2009, through November 2012, Schmidt borrowed $2,254,818 from seven LPL customers for the purpose of purchasing the real estate in Hawaii and constructing a vacation rental property.
The allegations against Schmidt 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. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away often occurs in brokerage firm that either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.
In cases of selling away the investor is unaware that the advisor’s investments are improper. In many of these cases the investor will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is fired or charged by law enforcement, or stops returning client calls altogether.
Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein 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.