The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred (FINRA AWC No. 20150454876-01) former PFS Investments, Inc. (PFS Investments) broker Malcolm Babin (Babin) after the broker failed to respond to a letter from the regulator requesting information. While BrokerCheck records kept by FINRA do not disclose the nature of the regulatory inquiry, in May 2015, Babin was permitted to resign from PFS Investments stating that the broker was terminated for 1 being involved in a misappropriation; 2) unlicensed security solicitation, and 3) an undisclosed outside business activity and potentially a private securities transaction – also referred to in the industry as “selling away.”
Babin entered the securities industry in 2007 with PFS Investments as a Series 6 broker. A Series 6 license only allows the broker to solicit variable contracts and open-end mutual funds and does not allow the broker to solicit general securities. FINRA alleged that on July 7, 2015 FINRA was investigating allegations that Babin converted customer funds and engaged in undisclosed outside business activities. FINRA requested that Babin provide documents and information by July 14, 2015. The regulatory stated that they received an email from Babin acknowledging receipt of FINRA’s requests for documents but informed staff that he would not cooperate. Consequently, the regulator barred Babin from the securities industry.
The conduct alleged against Babin constitutes a potential “selling away” securities violations. 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 when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules 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 misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms 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 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.