Articles Posted in Securities Arbitration

shutterstock_173864537-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Robert Brinckerhoff (Brinckerhoff), currently employed by Morgan Stanley has been subject to at least five customer complaints and five regulatory actions during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Brinckerhoff’s customer complaints alleges that Brinckerhoff recommended unsuitable investments in various investments such structured products among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently representing investors who were surprised to find out that the “bonds” that were recommended by their advisors have almost completely stopped paying interest while plummeting in value.  What many investors in this situation did not realize was that they were not sold bonds at all but instead complex structured products that go by a variety of names including steepener notes, adjustable rate market notes, spread linked notes, or structured notes.  Regulators have already stated that it is improper to sell these investments as a fixed income substitute or to compare them to bonds in terms of producing a revenue stream.  However, in our firm’s experience it appears that many brokers have been selling structured products as bond alternatives.

Structured products range in risk from benign to extreme.  However, most structured products produce inferior risk/return profiles than ordinary debt or equity instruments because the brokerage firms that issue these products seek to profit from the spread between the payment to investors and the amount of money the brokerage firm can make from the issuance.  When dealing with complex structured products most investors will lack the ability to understand the merits of investments nor are they appropriate for investors seeking a fixed or reliable income and have a desire for preservation of capital.

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shutterstock_88744093-297x300The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating customer complaints against broker John Boatright (Boatright), formerly associated with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) out of Duluth, Georgia.  According to a BrokerCheck report, Boatright has been subject to at least three customer disputes and one large tax lien during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Boatright’s recent customer complaints concern allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations.

In May 2018 a customer alleged that Boatright made unsuitable recommendations and provided negligent investment advice.  The customer requested $46,000 in damages.  This dispute is still pending.

In May 2018 Boatright disclosed a $22,813 tax lien against him.  Large tax liens on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts.  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.

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shutterstock_188141822-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating advisor Mark Upchurch (Upchurch), currently associated with Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus Financial) out of Houston, Texas.  According to a BrokerCheck report, Upchurch has been subject to at least three customer disputes, one regulatory action, and one termination for cause during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaints against Upchurch concern allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations.

In April 2018 a customer alleged that Upchurch made unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations causing over $5,000 in damages.  The claim settled for $17,500.

In October 2006 FINRA found that Upchurch violated NASD Rule 2110 by signing a customer’s name to an account transfer form without the customer’s permission.  Without admitting or denying the allegations, Upchurch consented to the described sanctions and to the entry of the findings.  Upchurch was fined $5,000 and suspended for 30 days.

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shutterstock_189302954-300x203The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) broker Randy Schneider (Schneider). According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulative Authority (FINRA), Schneider has been subject to nine customer disputes. The majority of these customer disputes revolve around the unsuitable recommendation of alternative investments, annuities and REITs.

Most recently, in February 2015, a customer alleged that Schneider stole and misappropriated funds in the customer account and also misrepresented the nature of the AXA annuities by providing misleading information. The customer requested $160,000 in damages.

In June 2013, a customer alleged that from November 2007 to June 2008, Schneider misrepresented the nature of certain alternative investments that were unsuitable for the customer. The case was settled at $250,000.

In September 2011, a customer alleged that Schneider unsuitably recommended an alternative investment and misrepresented the facts of the investment. This dispute was settled at $38,750.

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shutterstock_7947664-300x200Investment attorneys with our offices are currently investigating previously registered broker Matthew Singer (Singer). According to BrokerCheck Records,  in March 2018, Singer was barred from the financial industry for failing to appear at an on-the-record testimony concerning allegations that he was recommending unsuitable investments to customers while employed at Morgan Stanley.  According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Singer consented to the sanction and bar due to the fact that he refused to appear to the testimony.   For failing to appear for testimony, Singer was in violation of FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010 and automatically barred.

In addition, Singer has been subject to multiple customer complaints. In December 2016, a customer alleged that from May 2015, to January 2016, Singer misrepresented investments and executed unauthorized trades in the customer account regarding option investments. The case was settled at $60,000.

In February 2016, a customer alleged that Singer recommended unsuitable options to the customer.  The customer requested $381,929 in damages.  In October 2015, a customer alleged that from June 2015, Singer recommended highly risky and unsuitable investments to the customer.

Gana Weinstein LLP represented 19 Claimants in a FINRA arbitration against Anthony Diaz. A panel of arbitrators awarded the Claimants over $4 million. The case was picked up by major publications including the Washington Post and InvestmentNews. Adam Gana, managing partner of Gana Weinstein LLP said his clients “gave their life savings to [Diaz], and he was just a predator who was looking out for his own best interest and not the best interest at my clients.” Gana said he will go after Diaz’s assets and earnings in an attempt to recover the judgment. “We will fight tooth and nail to get these people their money,” he said. “This is not money that our clients can afford to lose.”

Gana Weinstein LLP is a full service law firm that specialized in Securities Arbitration. The firm tenaciously defends investors and aggressively pursues brokerage firms for misconduct.

shutterstock_101456704-300x197According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Martin Stevens (Stevens), currently associated with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated (Stifel Nicolause), has been subject to seven customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in August 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Stevens conduct breached his fiduciary duty, negligence, unsuitable investments, violations of Arizona’s Securities Fraud Statute, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract among other claims.  The customer seeks $249,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

Also in August 2017 another customer filed a complaint alleging unsuitable investments causing $34,719 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_175483226-300x300Are you hiring the best securities attorney to help you recover investment losses? This article will help you make the right choice when selecting the best FINRA attorney by outlining the most important things to look out for. Consider these five questions to ensure you are hiring the best:

  1. Is the attorney reputable?

It is imperative to hire a reputable attorney for FINRA arbitration who has the necessary educational background, training, and results-oriented experience.  To ensure you are hiring the best securities attorney, look at the attorney’s practice areas, case experience, and client reviews.

shutterstock_163885049-300x200The fiduciary rule passed during the Obama administration is being reviewed by the Department of Labor (DOL), leaving plenty of uncertainty for advisers and investors. As Barry Tempkin reports, “During this period, advisers who do not receive level-fee compensation are held to the DOL impartial conduct standard for retirement accounts, but are not required to enter into best interest contracts for commission-based compensation.” Under the DOL impartial conduct standard, brokers who offer retirement investing advice are required to put clients’ interests ahead of their own. Although portions of the rule went into effect in June, there are additional requirements but the DOL has proposed a delay to fully implementing the rule until July 2019.

We cannot be sure how the current DOL under Secretary Acosta will ultimately handle the adoption of a fiduciary standard. In the meantime, the impartial conduct standard for retirement accounts will likely result in more litigation and arbitration. Since the rule benefits investors, there will likely be a higher success rate for investors’ representatives.

Under the new fiduciary rule, if an adviser engages in a BIC (“Best Interests Contract”) agreement with a client, it allows the adviser to engage in transactions that are prohibited under the rule. If the “Best Interests Contract” (BIC) exception goes into effect, these claims will include breach of contract.

shutterstock_103476707Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor Victor Lambert (Lambert) currently not registered with any firm, alleging unsuitable investments among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Lambert has been subject to seven customer complaints and two judgement/liens.

In January 2016 Lambert disclosed a tax lien of $46,706.  A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

In October 2015 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Lambert purchased two equities that were inappropriate for the client causing damages.  The claim was resolved for $85,000.

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