FINRA Sanctions Financial Advisor Michael Barranco Over Private Securities Transactions

shutterstock_170709014Our firm is investigating claims made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Michael Barranco (Barranco). According to BrokerCheck records Barranco is subject to one regulator complaint, one employment separation for cause, and one financial disclosure.  The FINRA regulatory matter concerns an investigation surrounding alleged sales of private securities transactions. (FINRA No. 2015048273301).

According to FINRA, between 2010 and 2015, Barranco was involved in almost 40 private securities transactions with three different issuers.  In 2010, Barranco requested and received permission from LPL to act as a consultant and provide business planning advice to an entity (TMG) founded by two of his customers.  FINRA found that Barranco also participated in the solicitation of investments by firm customers and others in 13% Senior Notes issued by TMG,

FINRA found that between November 2010 and February 2011, Barranco participated in 35 transactions through which 27 individuals invested at least $2,087,000 in the TMG notes.  In addition, FINRA also found that in 2014, the founders of TMG purchased a distressed real estate development (IBH) and issued 12% Senior Notes which Barranco recommended to two of his customers who invested $750,000.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.

Barranco entered the securities industry in 2004.  From April 2007 until December 2015 Barranco was registered with LPL Financial LLC out of the firm’s Montgomery, Alabama office location.

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.

The investment fraud attorneys at Gana LLP have represented hundreds of investors in securities related disputes including 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.