According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Oscar Francis (Francis), formerly associated with MML Investor Services, LLC (MML) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was terminated for cause by MML concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions. MML stated that Francis’ was “terminated in connection with an investigation into an undisclosed outside business activity, potential selling away and an unauthorized non-securities life insurance transaction.” In addition, Francis has been subject to three customer complaints concerning unapproved investments. Further, in April 2017, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into Francis’ investment activities.
At this time it is unclear the extent and nature of the outside business activities or private securities transactions that occurred. The allegations concerning private securities transactions is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.
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.
Francis entered the securities industry in 2006. From July 2008 until June 2017, Francis was associated with MML out of the firm’s Ft. Lauderdale, Florida office location.
Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein 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.