Articles Posted in Securities Lawyer

shutterstock_189276023-300x198The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Alberto Sanchez (Sanchez) engaged in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) that were not approved by his brokerage firm.  Sanchez, formerly registered with SagePoint Financial, Inc. (SagePoint Financial) and MML Investors Services, LLC (MML Investors) out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was barred from the financial industry according to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  In addition, Sanchez disclosed at least two customer complaints.

In June 2019 FINRA found that Sanchez consented to the sanctions and findings that he did not provide documents as requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation concerning his involvement in a potential undisclosed outside business activity.  Accordingly, Sanchez was automatically barred from the securities industry.

At this time it is unclear what OBA Sanchez engaged in that FINRA was investigating and whether or not that activity also involved private securities transactions.  Sanchez’s public disclosures state that he was involved in a number of OBAs including rental property business, an insurance business, Creative Financial Network, and Health Insurance.  It is unclear if these OBAs were the subject of FINRA’s investigation.

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shutterstock_176198786-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Stephen Whittaker (Whittaker), formerly employed by First Financial Equity Corporation (First Financial) and previously with Morgan Stanley has been subject to at least 2 customer complaints, one bankruptcy filing, and two terminations for cause during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Whittaker’s customer complaints allege that Whittaker recommended unsuitable securities recommendations among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In May 2012 Whittaker was forced to resign from Morgan Stanley after the firm found that Whittaker communicated with third parties regarding two client accounts without written authorization and his potential involvement in unapproved outside business activities (OBAs).

In April 2015 Whittaker declared bankruptcy.  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 April 2019 Whittaker was terminated by First Financial after the firm found out that Whittaker was engaged in undisclosed business activities including tax planning for firm clients.

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shutterstock_102242143-300x169According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor John Forrester (Forrester), currently employed by Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) has been subject to at least four customer complaints, one regulatory action, and has two bankruptcy disclosures during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Forrester’s customer complaints allege that Forrester recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in a variety of products including alternative investments among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In April 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Forrester violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Forrester breached his fiduciary duty and was negligent in the sale of alternative investments causing $55,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In June 2017 Forrester declared bankruptcy.  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_152933045-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Leonard Kinsman (Kinsman), currently employed by Wells Fargo Advisors Network, LLC (Wells Fargo) has been subject to at least five customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Kinsman’s customer complaints allege that Kinsman recommended unsuitable securities recommendations among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In addition, a recent Washington Post article exposed how brokerage firms as large as Wells Fargo still hire brokers with troubling work histories.  Kinsman had prior multiple complaints from clients and worked for two banned brokerages firms.  One firm was Meyers Pollock Robbins, a notorious bucket shop whose ex-president pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in a pump-and-dump stock scheme.  The fraud was alleged to have been linked to a bribery scheme coordinated by organized crime.

Recently, Kinsman was the subject to a new customer complaint where the client accused the broker of losing a $2.25 million insurance settlement after the client’s husband died unexpectedly in 2011.  The complaint alleges aggressive options trading and false documentation.

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shutterstock_70513588-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Demos Argyros (Argyros), currently employed by Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (Oppenheimer) has been subject to at least five customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Argyros’ customer complaints allege that Argyros recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in a variety of products including unsuitable equities and warrants among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In February 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Argyros violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Argyros breached his fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract relating to unsuitable equities and warrants from May 2008 until November 2016 causing $100,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In April 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Argyros violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Argyros breached his fiduciary duty, churning, excessive fees and missing funds from January 2008 until December 2016 causing $900,000 in damages.  The claim settled for $275,000.

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shutterstock_102242143-300x169Advisor Alex Blanco (Blanco), currently employed by MML Investors Services, LLC (MML Investors) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report some of the customer complaints concern variable annuities and alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In December 2018 a customer complained that Blanco violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor made unsuitable investments as well as overstating assets and inadequate accounts to statement causing $315,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In May 2018 a customer complained that Blanco violated the securities laws by alleging that the financial advisor recommended investments purchased in 2015 were not suitable and he is requesting to liquidate the account.  The claim was denied by the firm.

Our firm often handles cases involving annuities and direct participation products, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments which provides a perverse incentives by brokers to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

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shutterstock_88744093-297x300According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Marvin Fisher (Fisher), currently employed by SagePoint Financial, Inc. (SagePoint Financial) has been subject to at least one customer complaint, one employment termination for cause, and four tax liens or judgments during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Fisher’s customer complaints allege that Bernstein recommended unsuitable variable annuity among other allegations.

In October 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Fisher violated the securities laws by, among other things, that the guaranteed minimum income benefit rider on variable annuity purchased in 2006 was misrepresented to the client. The claim alleges $5,000 in damages and settled for $25,000.

In July 2016 Fisher was subject to a tax lien of $107,674.  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.  In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services.

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shutterstock_145123405-200x300According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Joseph Stern (Stern), currently employed by Morgan Stanley has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Stern’s customer complaints allege that Stern recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in a variety of products including high yield bonds and corporate debt related investments among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In January 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Stern violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Stern made unsuitable investment recommendations from October 2014 until January 2016 causing $75,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In September 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Stern violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Stern made misrepresentations with the respect to the risks of high yield bonds from 2012 through 2017.  The claim settled for $30,000.

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shutterstock_175137287-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Izhar Shefer (Shefer), formerly employed by Morgan Stanley has been subject to at least ten customer complaints during the course of her career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Shefer’s customer complaints allege that Shefer recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in a variety of products including options trading among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In August 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Shefer violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Shefer made unsuitable investments from 2011 to 2017.  The alleged damages are $700,000 and the claim is currently pending.

In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Shefer violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Shefer made unsuitable investments from 2015 to 2017.  The claim settled for $26,840.

In September 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Shefer violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Shefer made unsuitable investments from July 2015 to February 2017.  The claim settled for $30,000.

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shutterstock_123758422-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Richard Bernstein (Bernstein), currently employed by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC (Wells Fargo) has been subject to at least eight customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Bernstein’s customer complaints allege that Bernstein recommended unsuitable investments and securities among other allegations.

In February 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Bernstein violated the securities laws by, among other things, that the client is seeking at least $53,000.00 in damage and claims that from February 2013 to July 2015 the advisor made unauthorized trades which conflicted with the client’s stated investment goals.  The claim is currently pending

In January 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Bernstein violated the securities laws by, among other things, that from 2015 through 2016 the advisor made unsuitable investments.  The claim is currently pending.

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