CEO of Brokerage Firm Financial West Group Sanctioned Over Private Placement Practices

shutterstock_57938968-200x300According to BrokerCheck records the CEO and Chief Compliance Officer of Firm Financial West, Gene Valentine (Valentine) has been subject to one customer complaint, three tax liens, and one regulatory action.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Valentine has been accused by FINRA of failing to have supervisory procedures for due diligence on private placement offerings.

FINRA alleged that from October 1, 2008, through June 30, 2015, Financial West’s written supervisory procedures failed to address the firm’s due diligence process for private placements. FINRA found that Financial West’s written supervisory procedures did not describe the process for approving private placement offerings and did not describe how or when to evaluate private placement offerings.  FINRA also found that the firm failed to consistently follow the written procedures that did exist such as failing to document the review as described in the procedures.

Under FINRA Regulatory Notice 10-22 firms are provided with detailed guidance while reminding them of their “obligation to conduct a reasonable investigation of the issuer and the securities they recommend” in private placement offerings.  The notice also provides that a firm’s supervisory procedures must be reasonably designed to ensure that the firm engages in a rigorous due diligence process.  In order to comply with FINRA’s rules and “[t]o demonstrate that it has performed a reasonable investigation, a [firm] should retain records documenting both the process and results of its investigation.”  In this case, FINRA found that Financial West failed to meet these requirements.

Additionally, FINRA found that from May 2013 through June 2014 Valentine directed and permitted Financial West to associate with a statutorily disqualified individual.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

At Gana LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts.  Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.