Articles Posted in Investment Lawyer

shutterstock_188269637-300x200Biotech company Akers Bioscience (AKER) went public in 2014 using Aegis Financial as its investment underwriter. The company’s IPO price was $5 but has subsequently fallen to only $.25.  According to SeekingAlpha not only did Aegis underwrite the security but it also promoted it to investors and potentially the firm’s own brokerage clients buy maintaining a buy rating on the stock.  Akers was given an $11.00 price target in June 2014.

The company has also been subject to a recent class action complaint.  The complaint alleges that the company made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Akers’ business, operational and compliance policies.

According to the company’s website, Akers Biosciences, Inc. (aka Akers Bio) was founded in 1989, with the objective of developing proprietary, in vitro diagnostic technologies that accelerate the rate at which clinicians, and in some cases consumers, can obtain health information. The tests are designed to provide the same level of accuracy as traditional laboratory testing methods but at a fraction of the cost and turn-around time.

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shutterstock_102242143-300x169According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Roy Failla (Failla) has been subject to three customer complaints.  Failla is currently employed by First Standard Financial Company LLC (First Standard Financial).  Many of the customer complaints against Failla concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as excessive trading, churning, unauthorized trading, and unsuitable investments.

In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging unsuitable and unauthorized trading.  The claim alleges $1,500,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In May 2010 a customer filed a complaint alleging churning, unsuitable trades, and misrepresentations claiming $417,000 in damages.  The complaint was settled for $40,000.

In February 2010 a client filed a complaint alleging unauthorized trading, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and excessive trading and claimed $299,817 in damages.  The claim was settled for $75,000.

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shutterstock_156764942-200x300Securities attorneys from Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra Investment Services) broker Mitchell Walk (Walk).

According to BrokerCheck records, Walk has been subject to 5 customer complaints, 2 of which are still pending. The majority of these complaints regard unsuitable investment recommendations.

In August 2017, a customer alleged that Walk made unsuitable investment recommendations to the customer and that Kestra Investment Services failed to properly supervise this activity. The client has requested $72,000 in damages. This dispute is currently still pending.

shutterstock_188631644-300x225The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) broker Patrick McNamara (McNamara). According to BrokerCheck records, McNamara has been subject to seven customer complaints. The majority of these complaints concern unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation of material facts.

In August 2017, a customer alleged that from September 2011 to July 2017, McNamara misrepresented the nature of investments to customers. The case was settled at $16,063.98.

In August 2015, a customer alleged that from July 2014 to January 2015, McNamara provided unsuitable investment recommendations. The case was settled at $8,438.00.

shutterstock_191231699-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Jack Griffith (Griffith), currently employed by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC (Janney Scott) has been subject to five customer complaints and one lien.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of a Griffith’s customer complaints allege that Griffith made unsuitable recommendations in equity securities.

In January 2018 a customer made allegations unsuitable recommendations for the client’s account, overconcentration, and breached his fiduciary duty. The claim alleged $200,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Also in January 2018 another customer made allegations of unsuitable recommendations for the client’s account.  The claim alleged $150,000 in damages and is currently pending.

shutterstock_136504499Gana Weinstein LLP is investigating the LJM Preservation and Growth Fund (Ticker Symbols LJMAZ, LJMCX, LIMIX). The LJM Funds relied extensively on a strategy that is designed to profit from calm markets. The LJM Preservation and Growth Funds collapsed and lost more than 80% of its value as a result of last week’s market volatility. The combonation of LJMAZ, LJMCX and LIMIX at one point collectively held over $800 million in assets CNC reached out to Chicago-based LJM Partners, Inc. – the funds managers, and no comment was made.

According to its annual report to shareholders, LJM explained that it options “to deliver solid returns while maintaining risk parameters.” LJM also suggested that it used techniques to mitigate losses in extreme market conditions. The fund was designed to take advantage of the spread between realized and implied volatility. According to CNBC, “LJM Preservation and Growth Fund had been run by Anthony Caine, a veteran of the 1990s technology boom who later founded LJM, and Anish Parvataneni, a former trader for well-known investor Ken Griffin’s Citadel.”

According to reports, LJM was infused with almost $400 million in new capital in 2017 alone.

shutterstock_88744093-297x300According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Victor Sibilla (Sibilla), currently associated with Westpark Capital, Inc. (Westpark Capital), has been subject to 6 customer complaints, one regulatory action, and two civil judgments.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Sibilla has been accused by customers of unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, excessive trading, and misuse of margin among other claims.

In May 2017, a customer filed a complaint alleging that Sibilla was not licensed in the state where he transacted business seeking $108,400 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.  In June 2013 another customer filed a complaint alleging that Sibilla misrepresented that his stock would double claiming $175,000 in damages.  The claim was closed.  In September 2012, a customer alleged excessive trading and unsuitable investments causing $300,000 in damages.  The claim was settled.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_139932985-300x200The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating allegations made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against former First Allied broker John Kai (Kai), working out of Hilo, Hawaii. According to Kai’s file on FINRA’s BrokerCheck, he was suspended in June 2017 for failing “to respond to FINRA requests for information” and was barred from the securities industry on September 12, 2017.

Kai entered the industry in 1991 and worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated until 1995. He then moved to Painewebber Incorporated from 1995 until 1999. From 1999 until 2006, he was with Linsco/Private Ledger Corp. From 2006 until 2010, Kai was with Commonwealth Financial Network. And finally, he was with First Allied Securities, Inc. from 2010 until 2017 when he was terminated.

First Allied terminated John Kai in April for violating “numerous firm policies including communication with the public, undisclosed private securities transactions and outside business activity, borrowing funds from a client, and exercising discretion in clients’ brokerage accounts without the firm’s approval.”

shutterstock_27597505-300x200According to BrokerCheck records Robert Yahney (Yahney), associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), has been subject to five customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Yahney has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice and investment strategy and appears to include options recommendations.

The most recent complaint filed in May 2017 alleges $1,000,000 in damages stemming from allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from February 2012 to June 2014. The claim is currently pending.  Another claim was filed by a customer in March 2017 alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from August 2012 to July 2014 causing $300,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_179921270-200x300The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the allegations made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against broker Ann Comcowich (Comcowich). According to the broker’s file on FINRA’s BrokerCheck, Comcowich allegedly refused to provide the proper documentation and information to FINRA that was necessary during an ongoing investigation regarding an amended Form U5 that was filed by her former firm. During her employment at Prudential, Comcowich was allegedly suspected of processing 13 unauthorized withdrawals from customer accounts. In April 2017, due to these allegations, Comcowich was barred from holding any registration capacities in FINRA.

Comcowich entered the industry in 1999 and had 16 years of experience as a registered broker. Before being barred, she was employed at Prudential Investment Management Services LLC from March 2000 to November 2016.

The term “securities fraud” covers a range of illegal activities involving the deception of investors or the manipulation of the financial markets. Fraud includes false representations, unauthorized trading, value manipulation, and Ponzi schemes. Investors are protected against fraudulent securities activities by several different civil laws.