Articles Posted in Investment Attorney

shutterstock_77335852-300x225Advisor Robert Gianchiglia (Gianchiglia), currently employed by USA Financial Securities Corporation (USA Financial) has been subject to at least six customer complaints and two criminal complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report several of the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In November 2019 a customer complained that Gianchiglia violated the securities laws by alleging that Gianchiglia engaged in sales practice violations related to misrepresentations in the sale of private placement. The claim alleges $200,000 and is currently pending.

In March 2017 a customer complained that Gianchiglia violated the securities laws by alleging that Gianchiglia engaged in sales practice violations related to misrepresentations, unsuitable trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and failure to supervise relating to DPPs. The claim settled for $45,000.

In November 2014 a customer complained that Gianchiglia violated the securities laws by alleging that Gianchiglia engaged in sales practice violations related to misrepresentations and breach of fiduciary duty relating to DPPs. The claim settled for $14,995

According to BrokerCheck, Gianchiglia operates through several d/b/a entities including Financial Resource Partners, Edia-Eastern Dental Insurance Agency, and PIAM among other business related disclosures.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200The investment attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investors who were inappropriately recommended leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  ETFs, also called exchange-traded notes (ETNs) when backed by a note rather than underlining assets, are speculative and volatile investment offerings.

An ETF is a registered investment trust whose shares represent an interest in a portfolio of securities that track an underlying benchmark or index. Shares of ETFs are typically listed on national securities exchanges and trade throughout the day at prices established by the market.  These non-traditional ETFs differ from other ETFs in that they seek to return a multiple of the performance of the underlying index or benchmark or the inverse or opposite performance.

To accomplish their objectives non-traditional and leveraged ETFs typically contain very complex investment products, including interest rate swap agreements, futures contracts, and other derivative instruments.  Moreover, non-traditional ETFs are designed to achieve their stated objectives only over the course of one trading session, i.e., in one day. This is because between trading sessions the fund manager for a non-traditional ETF generally will re-balance the fund’s holdings in order to meet the fund’s objectives and is known as the “daily reset.”  As a result of the daily reset the correlation between the performance of a non-traditional ETF and its linked index or benchmark is inexact and “tracking error” occurs.  Over longer periods of time or pronounced during periods of volatility, this “tracking error” between a non-traditional ETF and its benchmark becomes compounded significantly.

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shutterstock_836360-300x225According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor John Davenport (Davenport), currently employed by Liberty Partners Financial Services, LLC (Liberty Partners) has been subject to three customer complaints, one regulatory action, one employment termination for cause, one bankruptcy, and two judgement or tax liens during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaints against Davenport concern allegations over variable annuity sales practices.

In January 2019 FINRA alleged that Davenport consented to the sanctions and to findings that he placed two securities transactions for a registered representative of another firm and split the commissions generated from the transactions with that representative, without the knowledge or consent of either firm. FINRA determined that Davenport paid the registered representative from the other firm approximately $50,000 on the variable annuity transactions ostensibly as a referral fee causing his firm’s books and records to be inaccurate. FINRA further made findings that Davenport permitted his assistant to use a personal email address to communicate with securities customers concerning business-related matters, which was not approved by the firm, causing the firm to fail to retain the emails among its books and records.

Variable annuities are complex financial and insurance products.  In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing.  Essentially, a variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you.  The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen.  The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200Advisor Jeffrey Labelle (Labelle), currently employed by Kovack Advisors, Inc. (Kovack Advisors) has been subject to at least six customer complaints and one employment termination for cause during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, and private placements.  Labelle discloses that he operates out of a d/b/a called Gulf Coast Wealth Advisors and is also affliated with other businesses including Labelle & Associates and Gulf Coast Insurance Group.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In 2007 Labelle was terminated by SII Investments, Inc. for failing to follow the firm’s policies concerning his advertising practices.

In February 2020 a customer complained that Labelle violated the securities laws by alleging that Labelle engaged in sales practice violations related to recommending investments that were not suitable for her. The investor alleges breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and negligent supervision. The claim seeks $250,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In February 2020 a customer complained that Labelle violated the securities laws by alleging that Labelle engaged in sales practice violations related to recommending investments that were not suitable for her. Claimant generally alleges unsuitability, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract and failure to supervise. The claim seeks $49,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_94332400-300x225Advisor Rodney Potratz (Potratz), currently employed by FSC Securities Corporation (FSC Securities), has been subject to at least two customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report one of the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, and private placements.  Potratz discloses that he operates a number of outside businesses, some of which are investment related, including Stonebridge Financial Advisors and Diversified Financial Advisory Group.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In November 2019 a customer complained that Potratz violated the securities laws by alleging that Potratz engaged in sales practice violations related to recommending various alternative investments were inappropriately recommended.  The claim alleges $6,000,000 and is currently pending.

DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for the investments.

Several studies have confirmed that Non-traded REITs underperform publicly traded REITs with some showing that Non-Traded REITs cannot even beat safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do.  Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.

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shutterstock_175993865-300x225The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Jeremy Rosen (Rosen), currently employed by Nationwide Planning Associates Inc. (Nationwide Planning) has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Rosen’s customer complaints alleges that Rosen recommended unsuitable investments in various investments among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In March 2020 a customer complained that Rosen violated the securities laws by alleging that Rosen made investments in 2016 through 2019 that were unsuitable and misrepresented to them. The clients also alleged that the firm failed to supervise the actions of Rosen. The claim is currently pending.

In January 2020 a customer complained that Rosen violated the securities laws by alleging that Rosen made investments in 2016 through 2019 that were unsuitable and misrepresented to them. The clients also alleged that the firm failed to supervise the actions of Rosen. The claim seeks $140,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In July 2019 a customer complained that Rosen violated the securities laws by alleging that Rosen made investments in 2016 through 2019 recklessly which has jeopardized their family’s future. The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_71240-300x183The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Morgan Arford (Arford), currently employed by Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial) has been subject to at least four customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Arford’s customer complaints alleges that Arford recommended unsuitable investments among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In September 2016 a customer complained that Arford violated the securities laws by alleging that Arford in mid-2012 participated in the sale of unapproved and unsuitable investments in oil and gas and a penny stock.  The claim alleged $140,760 in damages and settled for $95,000.

In August 2016 a customer complained that Arford violated the securities laws by alleging that Arford in 2012 and 2013 participated in the sale of unapproved and unsuitable investments in oil and gas and a penny stock.  The claim alleged $335,300 in damages and settled for $192,500.

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shutterstock_139932985-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Pratul Victor Agnihotri (Agnihotri) is under investigation for conversion of customer funds among other allegations.  According to BrokerCheck records, Agnihotri is currently registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm SW Financial.  In addition, Agnihotri disclosed three customer complaints and one civil judgment.  If you have been a victim of Agnihotri’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In October 2019 FINRA initiated an investigation concerning Agnihotri conduct related to FINRA’s preliminary determination to recommend that disciplinary action be brought against Agnihotri for potential violations including conversion of investor funds, engaging in an outside business activity without providing prior written notice to his FINRA member employer firms.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Agnihotri violated the securities laws by alleging that Agnihotri engaged in sales practice violations related to unauthorized trading, selling away, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. The claim alleges $650,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling securities sales through OBAs.  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.

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shutterstock_189135755-300x300The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Joel Davidman (Davidman), currently employed by Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated (Stifel Nicolaus) has been subject to at least three customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and two regulatory actions during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Davidman’s customer complaint alleges that Davidman recommended unsuitable investments in a variety of investment products including bonds among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In May 2015 Davidman’s employer Morgan Stanley discharged Davidman alleging that the representative engaged in discretionary trades in a client’s account without authorization.

Thereafter, FINRA investigated the allegations and in July 2017 suspended Davidman after alleging that he consented to sanctions and findings that he exercised discretionary trading authority in the accounts of customers without obtaining prior written authorization from each of the customers or approval from his member firm to treat the customers’ accounts as discretionary. FINRA found that Davidman effected some of the trades using time and price discretion and the remaining occurred without Davidman discussing and receiving approval for the trades from the customers on the dates of the transactions.

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shutterstock_93851422-300x240The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Jamie Westenbarger (Westenbarger), formerly employed by Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) has been subject to at least five customer complaints, two employment termination for cause, and one regulatory action during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Westenbarger’s customer complaint alleges that Westenbarger recommended unsuitable investments in a variety of investment products including alternative investments, non-traded REITs, variable annuities, corporate notes, and UITs among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In August 2019 Westenbarger’s employer, Securities America, discharged Westenbarger alleging that the representative was discharged for violating firm policies and procedures regarding borrowing funds from clients.

Thereafter, FINRA investigated the allegations and in October 2019 barred Westenbarger after alleging that he consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he failed to provide documents requested by FINRA during the course of an investigation concerning information disclosed by Securities America. FINRA found that Westenbarger intentionally provided a partial response, but did not substantially comply with all aspects of FINRA’s request.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Westenbarger violated the securities laws by alleging that Westenbarger convinced them to purchase a corporate note and instead used the funds for his own purposes, that in June 2018, Westenbarger convinced them to replace a variable annuity for no apparent reason, and that in July 2019 Westenbarger made an unauthorized purchase of a UIT, which was unsuitable.  The claim alleges $212,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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