Broker Investigation: St. Bernard Financial Broker Joseph Miles

shutterstock_1081038According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Joseph Miles (Miles) has been the subject of at least 3 customer complaints, 3 judgements or liens, and one bankruptcy discharge. Customers have filed complaints against Miles alleging securities law violations including poor investment performance, unsuitable investments, securities fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims. Most of the claims against Miles relate to bonds or other debt obligations that caused losses. For instance, the latest complaint alleged damages of $169,865 as a result of bonds that lost value in 2013. In addition, Miles has had difficulty managing his own finances having been through a bankruptcy in 2005. Thereafter, Miles has had three judgments filed against him for taxes in the amounts of $5,499, $27,241, and $7,900.

Miles entered the securities industry in 1983. Since May 2004, Miles has been associated with St. Bernard Financial Services, Inc. out of the Russellville, Arizona office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

The number of customer complaints against Miles is high relative to his peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.

Gana Weinstein LLP represents investors who have suffered investment losses due to broker wrongdoing, such as unsuitable investments. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.

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