Broker Investigation: Churning Claims Against Broker Ahmad “Kevin” Wares

shutterstock_189100745According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Ahmad “Kevin” Wares (Wares) has been the subject of at least seven customer complaints one employment separation, and one judgment/lien over the course of his career. Customers have filed complaints against Wares alleging a litany of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trades, churning, negligence, failure to follow instructions, and misrepresentations among other claims.

An examination of Wares’s employment history reveals that Wares moves from troubled firm to troubled firm. The pattern of brokers moving in this way is sometimes called “cockroaching” within the industry. See More Than 5,000 Stockbrokers From Expelled Firms Still Selling Securities, The Wall Street Journal, (Oct. 4, 2013). In Wares’ 15 year career he has worked at 7 different firms of which four have been expelled from FINRA. Since 2008 Wares has been registered with New Castle Financial Services LLC, First Midwest Securities, Inc., and EKN Financial Services Inc. Since September 2012, Wares has been associated with Laidlaw & Company (UK) LTD.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. The broker must first discuss all trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).   These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature.

Unauthorized trading often accompanies claims of churning, or investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

The number of complaints and regulatory actions against Wares is relatively large by industry standards. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. In Wares case a tax lien of over $28,000 was imposed against the broker. Such liens may lead to a conflict of interest in which the broker recommends high commission products or trading activity to clients in order to settle debts.

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.