Articles Posted in Failure to Supervise

shutterstock_32215765-300x200The securities and investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Malcolm Segal (Segal). According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck record, there are at least 11 disclosures on Segal’s record including customer complaints, multiple regulatory actions, and one employment separation from Aegis Capital Corp. The customer complaints against Segal allege misappropriation of customers’ funds, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract.

Throughout his career with Aegis, Segal received number customer complaints:

January 2016: Alleging misappropriation of funds and misrepresentation. The damage amount requested is $135,000.00. This complaint is currently pending.

shutterstock_61142644-300x225Our firm is investigating claims made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Mark Schklar (Schklar).  According to brokercheck, FINRA made a preliminary determination to recommend that disciplinary action be brought against Schklar concerning potential violations including private securities transactions, borrowing from/lending to a customer, making false attestations on annual compliance questionnaires, and false statements to FINRA.  In addition, Schklar has been subject to five customer complaints over his career.

At this time it is unclear the total scope and extent of these outside business activities and private transactions.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – 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.

Schklar entered the securities industry in 1991.  From January 2006 until January 2013 Schklar was associated with Scott & Stringfellow, LLC.  From November 2012 until January 2015 Schklar was associated with BB&T Securities, LLC.  Finally, from January 2015 until May 2016 Schklar was associated with Ridgeway & Conger, Inc. out of the firm’s New Woodstock, New York office location.

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shutterstock_1832895-300x199Our firm is investigating claims made by LPL Financial LLC (LPL) when the firm terminated broker David Garces (Garces).  According to the firm, Garces was discharged in July 2016 after allegation were made that Garces engaged in an outside business activity without prior notification to the firm.

According to Garces brokercheck records Garces has disclosed only one outside business activity called TMS Merchant Solutions which Garces is the president of and is involved in selling credit card terminals.  It is unclear if other business activities are involved in LPL’s allegations.  However, often times undisclosed outside business activities are used by brokers to provide loans or sell of notes and other investments to clients outside of a brokerage firm.  These types of transactions constitute impermissible private securities transactions – 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.  At this time it is unknown and has not been alleged that Garces engaged in selling away.

Garces entered the securities industry in 2012.  From March 2012 through April 2013 Garces was associated with Metlife Securities Inc.  Thereafter, from February 2015 until August 2016, Garces was registered with LPL out of the firm’s Brooklyn, New York office location.

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shutterstock_180341738Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Michael DiGaetano (DiGaetano) currently associated with Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial) alleging unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, fraud, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  According to brokercheck records DiGaetano has been subject to three customer complaints and one regulatory sanction.

In May 2012 FINRA sanctioned DiGaetano alleging that as a supervisor he failed in responsibilities by not taking reasonable action to prevent another broker from committing securities fraud.  (FINRA No. 2009019209202) As part of the claim, FINRA alleged that DiGaetano failed to even contact customers who were subject to fraudulent mutual fund switches and never questioned the broker involved even though the trades were marked as unsolicited.

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shutterstock_93851422The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Christopher Burtraw (Burtraw) working out of Lakewood, Colorado alleging that the broker borrowed client funds.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  According to the FINRA regulatory action (FINRA No. 20150472061-01) Burtraw consented sanctions in the form of a permanent bar because he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course their investigation into allegations that he borrowed funds from multiple customers.

At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Burtraw’s outside business activities and private securities transactions.  However, according to Burtraw’s public records his outside business activities includes Pacific Life Prestige Wealth Management Group.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

Burtraw entered the securities industry in 2003.  From September 2004 until November 2009, Burtraw was associated with LPL Financial Corporation.  From November 2009 until November 2014, Burtraw was associated with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments.  Finally, from November 2014 until October 2015, Burtraw was associated with J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. (JP Turner).

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shutterstock_153463796The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaint brought before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Gerald “Jerry” Tagge (Tagge) working out of Omaha, Nebraska alleging the sale of $125,000 in promissory notes.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  In addition to the promissory note complaint there have been two other customer complaints against Tagge.

At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Tagge’s outside business activities and private securities transactions.  However, according to Ingros’ public records his outside business activities include the d/b/a he operates out of Tagge Rutherford Financial Group, an insurance business, and real estate related business. Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

Tagge entered the securities industry in 1991.  Since August 2006 Tagge has been associated with Cetera Advisors LLC.

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.

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shutterstock_61142644The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought and enforcement action against broker Tracy Wengert (Wengert) (FINRA No. 2015044289201) resulting in a bar from the securities industry alleging that Wengert failed to provide FINRA staff with information and documents requested. The failure to provide those documents and information to FINRA resulted in an automatic bar from the industry. FINRA’s document requests related to the regulators investigation into claims in February 2015, FINRA enforcement began investigating allegations of misconduct by Wengert in that he opened brokerage accounts outside of the Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc. (Transamerica) on behalf of customers and placed unsuitable trades in these accounts.

FINRA’s investigation appears to stem from Wengert’s termination from Transamerica in January 2015. At that time Transamerica filed a Form U5 termination notice with FINRA stating in part that the firm discharged Wengert under circumstances where there was allegations that Wengert was alleged to have managed a client account on a discretionary basis without approval or oversight through the firm.

Wengert entered the securities industry in 1999. From April 2002 until January 2012, Wengert was associated with World Group Securities, Inc. Thereafter, from January 2012 until February 2015, Wengert was associated as a registered representative with Transamerica.

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shutterstock_103610648The law offices of Gana LLP are tracking a number of cases that have been filed against brokerage firm Interactive Brokers LLC (Interactive Brokers). These cases generally allege that due to market events affecting the customer’s accounts Interactive Brokers executed forced margin calls selling the customer’s securities. However, according to the customers Interactive Brokers did not provide investors fair pricing for the securities during the liquidations violating the “National Best Bid/Best Offer,” rule that is required in processing auto liquidations. By failing to offer fair prices for the stocks these customer their accounts were subject to additional margin calls, which results in a death spiral situation where the forced selling causes additional investment losses that causes more selling.

In one case that went to an arbitration hearing (FINRA No. 12-02766) the Claimant asserted claims of breach of contract; promissory estoppel; violation of state securities statutes; claims under common law; and vicarious liability. The Claimant alleged that Interactive Brokers’ flawed, inefficient and fraudulent margin auto-liquidation system caused auto-liquidation of the customers’ portfolios at prices inferior to the National Best Bid/Best Offer. The panel awarded the Claimant $175,000 for auto-liquidations that occurred on January 12, 2011, plus $57,200 in interest, $285,000 for auto-liquidations that occurred on August 5, 2011, and $77,000 in interest, and $72,418 for expert witness fees and other costs involved in the arbitration.

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shutterstock_154681727According to news sources, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are investigating how the hedge fund Canarsie Capital lost nearly all of the $60 million capital in just three weeks of trading. The fund was run by Owen Li (Li), and Ken deRegt (deRegt). Canarsie Capital was named for the Brooklyn neighborhood where Li grew up and was launched in January 2013 and had offices in midtown Manhattan, New York. Li previously worked for Raj Rajaratnam’s (Rajaratnam) Galleon Group. Rajaratnam is currently serving an 11 year sentence following his May 2011 conviction on nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy. The claims against him relate to $63.8 million in illicit profit from 2003 to 2009 by trading in stocks such as eBay Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Google Inc. Li cofounded the Canarsie Capital with his former Stanford University roommate, Eric deRegt and Eric’s father who ran Morgan Stanley’s fixed-income business.

According to filings the minimum investment accepted from an outside investor in the fund was $1 million. At its peak, Canarsie Capital had managed around $98 million in assets and had some well-known contributors. Goldman Sachs was the fund’s prime broker and clears and settles trades for the hedge fund starting in the fall of 2014. The Goldman Sachs switch came after the fund was dropped in March 2014, by Morgan Stanley’s prime brokerage over concerns with the fund’s risk practices.

On January 20, 2015, Li, wrote an apology letter to investors telling them that he “engaged in a series of aggressive transactions” during the first three weeks of 2015 that resulted in losing all but $200,000 of the fund’s capital, a 99.7% loss. According to the letter, Li engaged in aggressive trading in an attempt to recuperate prior losses the fund suffered in the fund in December 2014. At this time it’s unclear what the trading strategy was that Li engaged in January of this year. The only details in the letter concerning the securities themselves are that they included “options with strike prices pegged to the broader market increasing in value” and “some direct positions.”

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shutterstock_184433255The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought and enforcement action against broker  Michael Highfill (Highfill) (FINRA No. 2015045652501) resulting in a bar from the securities industry alleging that Highfill failed to provide FINRA staff with information and documents requested. The failure to provide those documents and information to FINRA resulted in an automatic bar from the industry. FINRA’s document requests related to the regulators investigation into claims the Highfill solicited and accepted a loan from an elderly customer and that he also failed to disclose an outside business activity to his member firm.

FINRA’s investigation appears to stem from Highfill’s termination from Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) in May 2015. At that time Merrill Lynch filed a Form U5 termination notice with FINRA stating in part that the firm discharged Highfill under circumstances where there was allegations that Highfill solicited a loan from a client and failed to disclose outside business activities. It is unclear the nature of the outside business activities from publicly available information at this time.

Highfill entered the securities industry in 1999. From August 2005 until August 2008, Highfill was associated with Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated. Thereafter, from July, 2008, until May 2015, Highfill was associated as a registered representative with Merrill Lynch out of the firm’s Ridgeland, Mississippi office.

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