Our firm is investigating claims made by various regulators and brokerage firms including the State of Washington against broker Douglas Donnelly (Donnelly), formerly associated with brokerage firms Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (Wells Fargo), Northwest Asset Management (Northwest), and Dinosaur Financial Group, L.L.C. (Dinosaur Financial). The allegations revolve around the offering of investments outside of the brokerage firm –a practice known in the industry as “selling away”. Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities. According to The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) brokercheck records Donnelly has been subject to two customer complaints, two regulatory events, and two terminations for cause. Donnelly has also disclosed outside business activities including Passing Time Winery and Concert Wealth Management.
One of the regulatory events involves claims by the State of Washington alleging that in June 2010, Donnelly began to invest $200,000 in a private placement. Thereafter, Washington alleged that Donnelly sent information about the private placement to potential investors from his Wells Fargo email account. It was also alleged that Donnelly held meetings at his Wells Fargo office to introduce his Wells Fargo clients to the company’s personnel and provided disclosure information about the company to potential investors. Washington found that Donnelly introduced approximately 40 individuals to the private placement who invested approximately $4,000,000. Washington found that Wells Fargo investigated and terminated Donnelly for introducing firm clients to the private placement without written approval.
Donnelly entered the securities industry in 1988. From July 2003 until March 2012 Donnelly was associated with Wells Fargo. Finally, from April 2013 until May 2016 Donnelly was associated with Dinosaur Financial out of the firm’s Seattle, Washington 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 Weinstein 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.