FINRA Bars Merrill Lynch Broker Kai Cheng Over Unauthorized Trading Investigation

shutterstock_94066819The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred (Case No. 201303930510) broker Kai Cheng (Cheng) concerning the broker’s failure to respond to requests for information concerning the regulators investigation into claims that Cheng engaged in conduct including entering into personal financial transactions with a customer, using a personal email address to communicate with a customer, and unauthorized trading in a customer account. In addition, to the FINRA bar Cheng has one employment separation and one customer dispute disclosed on his BrokerCheck record. The customer complaint contains allegations of unsuitable investments, failure to follow instructions, unauthorized trading, and omissions of material facts.

Cheng first entered the securities industry in 2005 as a broker with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) with the title of “First Vice President” and worked there until he was discharged in 2015. On March 2, 2015, Merrill Lynch filed a Uniform Termination Notice (Form U5) that reflected that Cheng was discharged on February 4, 2015. According to FINRA the Form U5 stated that Cheng was terminated for conduct including entering into personal financial transactions with a customer, using a personal email address to communicate with a customer and unauthorized trading in a customer account.

FINRA then sought to investigate these allegations and during the course of FINRA’s examination, the agency sent a letter to Cheng’s counsel pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210 requesting Respondent to provide on the record testimony. According to FINRA Cheng failed to provide testimony. Cheng’s failure to appear resulted in a bar from the industry.

NASD Conduct Rule 2510(b) prohibits registered representatives from exercising discretion in a customer account unless the customer has provided written authorization to the broker and the brokerage firm to exercise discretion. Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. A broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.

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 where their broker has acted inappropriately. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.