Articles Posted in Churning (Excessive Trading)

shutterstock_145123405-200x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Stephen Murray (Murray) has been subject to seven customer complaints, two financial disclosures or tax liens, and one regulatory action.  Murray was formerly employed by Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) prior to his bar from the financial industry.  Many of the customer complaints against Murray concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments.

In May 2018 FINRA barred Murray after he failed to respond to FINRA’s requests for documents and information concerning his activities.

In May 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging churning unauthorized trading, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty.  The claim alleged $100,000 in damages and settled.

In addition, Murray has two financial disclosures concerning debts and tax liens.  This information has been found to be material for investors to have because an advisor who cannot manage his own finances is a relevant factor for investors to consider.  In addition, a broker in financial distress may be influenced to recommend high commission products or strategies.

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shutterstock_184430498-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Michael Polyakov (Polyakov) has been subject to three customer complaints and eight financial disclosures.  Polyakov is currently employed by Westpark Capital, Inc. (Westpark Capital).  Many of the customer complaints against Polyakov concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments.

In January 2013 a customer filed a complaint alleging unsuitable investments, churning, and excessive trading.  The claim alleged $157,178 in damages and settled.

In March 2010 a customer filed a complaint alleging churning, unauthorized trades, and unsuitable investments claiming $250,000 in damages.  The complaint was settled.

In addition, Polyakov has eight financial disclosures concerning debt compromises.  This information has been found to be material for investors to have because an advisor who cannot manage his own finances is a relevant factor for investors to consider.  In addition, a broker in financial distress may be influenced to recommend high commission products or strategies.

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shutterstock_24531604-200x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker William Brunner (Brunner) has been subject to five customer complaints, one bankruptcy, two regulatory actions, and one termination for cause.  Brunner was formerly registered with Investment Planners, Inc. (Investment Planners) until May 2017.  Many of the customer complaints against Brunner concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments.

In April 2018 FINRA barred Brunner from the industry stating that Brunner consented to the sanction and declined to appear for on-the-record testimony requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into excessive trading and use of discretion without written authorization in customers’ accounts.  In May 2017 Investment Planners terminated Brunner claiming that allegations were made by a client concerning unauthorized trading.

In June 2017 a customer filed a complaint claiming that Brunner engaged in negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments claiming $1,000,000 in damages.  The claim was settled.

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shutterstock_146470052-300x205According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Erik Pica (Pica) has been subject to three customer complaints.  Pica is currently registered with Joseph Stone Capital L.L.C. (Joseph Stone).  Many of the customer complaints against Pica concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning, unauthorized trading, unsuitable investments, and speculative investment strategies.

The last customer complaint occurred in May 2018 when a customer alleged unauthorized trading in Rite Aid and Valeant Pharmaceutical leading to $7,613 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

Also in May 2018 another customer alleged negligent supervision, overconcentration, and unsuitable investments causing $293,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In March 2018 another customer alleged $500,000 after claiming that Pica engaged in unsuitable investments, churning, and other claims.  The claim is currently pending.

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Acshutterstock_123758422-300x200cording to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Dana Davis (Davis) has been subject to seven customer complaints and one termination for cause.  Davis is currently employed by Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities).  Many of the customer complaints against Davis concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments.

In January 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging misrepresentation, unsuitable and excessive trading, negligent supervision, and breach of fiduciary duty.  The claim alleges $250,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In October 2011 a customer filed a complaint alleging excessive transactions claiming $9,078 in damages.  The complaint was closed.

In September 2006 Davis was terminated from First Montauk Securities Corp. after allegations were made that Davis failed to follow procedures concerning unauthorized trading.

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shutterstock_36343294-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Worden Capital Management LLC (Worden Capital) broker Michael Rosalia (Rosalia) has been subject to six disclosed customer complaints, eight tax liens or judgements, and two financial disclosures including bankruptcy.  Many of the customer complaints against Rosalia allege churning or excessive trading.

In June 2013 Rosalia declared bankruptcy.  Such disclosures on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services.  FINRA discloses information concerning a broker’s financial condition because a broker’s inability to handle their own personal finances has also been found to be material information in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging Rosalia engaged in churning, improper use of margin, unsuitability and high commissions.  The complaint alleged $503,828 in damages and has been settled.

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shutterstock_70999552-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Maxim Group LLC (Maxim Group) broker Michael Solomon (Solomon) has been subject to seven disclosed customer complaints.  Many of the customer complaints against Solomon allege churning or excessive trading.

In April 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that between January 2015 and December 2015 Solomon engaged in excessive and unsutable transactions causing $246,928 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In September 2009 another customer filed a complaint alleging churning among other causes of action.  An arbitration panel awarded the customer over $1 million in damages including attorneys fees and costs.

shutterstock_57938968-200x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former Vanderbilt Securities, LLC (Vanderbilt Securities) broker Mark Kaplan (Kaplan) has been subject to eight disclosed customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and one regulatory action resulting in an industry bar.  Many of the customer complaints against Kaplan allege churning or excessive trading.

In March 2018, FINRA found that Kaplan violated the securities laws and FINRA rules by churning and engaging in unsuitable excessive trading in the brokerage accounts of a senior customer. FINRA found that Kaplan exercised de facto control over the customer’s accounts and the customer relied on Kaplan to direct investment decisions in his accounts. In addition, FINRA found that the elderly customer was experiencing a decline in his mental health and had a court allow the nephew to act as his legal guardian and manage his financial affairs after he was diagnosed with dementia.  Nonetheless, FINRA found that Kaplan effected more than 3,500 transactions in the customer’s accounts resulting in approximately $723,000 in trading losses while generating approximately $735,000 in commissions and markups for Kaplan. FINRA claimed that Kaplan never discussed with the customer the extent of his losses or the amount paid in sales charges and commissions. In sum, FINRA found that this level of trading was excessive and unsuitable for the customer given his investment profile, including his age, risk tolerance, and income needs.

When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time.  Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities.  This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades.  Churning is considered a species of securities fraud.  The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions.  A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements.  Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim.  These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

A FINRA arbitration panel ordered Windsor Street Capital, to pay two customers more than $1.3 million in compensatory damages, interest, punitive damages of over $3,000,000, attorneys fees in the amount of $552,321 and sanctions in the amount of $44,450 for churning customer accounts. The total award will be in excess of $5,000,000.

The Claimants alleged that Windsor churned their accounts over a very short period of time and violated know-your-customer rules and misrepresented the investments Windsor recommended.

You can find the award here.

shutterstock_113872627-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former Westpark Capital, Inc. (Westpark Capital) broker Lawrence Fawcett (Fawcett) has been subject to five customer complaints, two regulatory actions and one termination for cause.  Fawcett was barred by FINRA from the securities industry in March 2018 after failing to appear for testimony in connection with an investigation regarding Fawcett’s outside business activities.  At around the same time Fawcett was terminated by Westpark Capital on allegations that he conducted business from a non-disclosed location and made false representations to the firm.

In December 2017 Fawcett was sanctioned by FINRA on allegations that he recommended unsuitable mutual fund transactions to a customer by recommending 12 different mutual fund families instead of obtaining favorable breakpoint discounts for the customer.

In addition, many of the customer complaints against Fawcett concern high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading.  In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging excessive trading, churning, and unsuitable transactions seeking $33,271 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.