The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Benjamin Bourgeois (Bourgeois) has taken funds from clients and engaged in certain business activities not approved by his brokerage firm. Bourgeois, formerly registered with Commonwealth Financial Network (Commonwealth Financial) out of Metairie, Louisiana has been barred by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to answer questions concerning his conduct. In addition, Bourgeois disclosed at least three customer complaints and one termination for cause.
In May 2019 FINRA found that Bourgeois consented to sanctions and findings that he failed to produce documents and information requested by FINRA during the course of an investigation into allegations reported that he borrowed money from a customer, converted customer funds, and committed fraud.
In April 2019 a customer alleged that Bourgeois engaged in conversion of customer funds made by personal check purportedly for investment purposes; employing devices, schemes or artifices to defraud; making untrue statements of material facts; fraud beginning around 2016. The claim alleged $519,500 in damages and is currently pending.
Bourgeois’ CRD disclosures states that Bourgeois has an outside business activity through which he engages in fixed insurance sales.
Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling fraudulent securities sales. Bourgeois’ activities in the sale of unapproved investment products – 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. Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.
When advisors convert or misappropriate funds they often create businesses or other vehicles to serve as a cover for the theft of funds. However, federal securities laws and the FINRA rules require firms to 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.
Bourgeois entered the securities industry in 1991. From May 2009 until March 2014 Bourgeois was registered with Sterne, Agee & Leach, Inc. From March 2014 until June 2015 Bourgeois was registered with LPL Financial LLC. From May 2015 until April 2019 Bourgeois was associated with Commonwealth Financial out of the firm’s Metairie, Louisiana office location.
Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. Investors 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.