Articles Posted in Securities Lawyer

shutterstock_188141822-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Viqas Akhtar (Akhtar) has at least three disclosable events.  Theses events include three customer complaints alleging that Akhtar engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  Akhtar is currently employed by National Securities Corporation (National Securities).  Akhtar’s customer complaints alleges that Akhtar recommended unsuitable investments and engaged in unauthorized trading in different investment products including private placements relating to the handling of client accounts.

In March 2020 a customer complained that Akhtar violated the securities laws by alleging that Akhtar made unsuitable investments resulting in losses in the amount of $150,000 in the account.  The claim settled for $37,500.

In March 2020 a customer complained that Akhtar violated the securities laws by alleging that Akhtar made unsuitable investments resulting in losses in the amount of $85,000 in the account.  The claim is currently pending.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Akhtar violated the securities laws by alleging that Akhtar engaged in unauthorized trading resulting in losses in the amount of $8,000 in the account.  The claim settled for $9,539.

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shutterstock_190371500-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Doron Kochavi (Kochavi), currently employed by Western International Securities, Inc. (Western International) has been subject to at least six customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Western International’s customer complaints allege that Mr. Kochavi recommended unsuitable investments in various investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In October 2019, a customer complained that Mr. Kochavi violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Kochavi breached his fiduciary duty.  The claim alleges $4,000,000.00 in damages and is currently pending.

In August 2002, a customer complained that Mr. Kochavi violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Kochavi engaged in the recommendation of unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, and a failure to disclose material information regarding the investments. Damages were granted in the amount of $35,000.

In addition, older claims also involved allegations of similar misconduct. Claims from 1997 and 1999 involved allegations that Mr. Kochavi engaged in the recommendation of unsuitable investments.

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shutterstock_180341738-200x300Advisor Gregory Williams (Williams), formerly employed by brokerage firm Forta Financial Group, Inc. (Forta Financial) has been subject to at least nine customer complaints.  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 April 2021 a customer complained that Williams violated the securities laws by alleging that Williams committed the following violations: breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and violation of state and federal securities laws between November 2013 and February 2021.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $30,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In October 2020 a customer complained that Williams violated the securities laws by alleging that Williams committed the following violations: breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and violation of state and federal securities laws between November 2014 and September 2020.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $250,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In October 2020 a customer complained that Williams violated the securities laws by alleging that Williams committed the following violations: breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and violation of state and federal securities laws likely between March 2012 and September 2020.  The claim involves alternative investments and alleges $99,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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shutterstock_1081038-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Kenneth Hutkin, currently employed by Wedbush Securities Inc., (Wedbush) has been subject to at least five customer complaints during his career. According to records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Hutkin’s customer complaints allege that Hutkin recommended unsuitable investments, engaged in churning, overcharged certain corporate security debts, and engaged in unapproved outside business practices.

In February 2020, a customer complained that Hutkin violated the securities laws by alleging that Hutkin engaged in unsuitable investment advice. The claim does not specify any amount with respect to damages. However, the complaint was denied.

In September 2018, a customer complained that Hutkin violated securities laws by alleging that Hutkin engaged in unapproved outside business activities, including payments for some such activities. Hutkin was terminated by his employer, Morgan Stanley, for these allegations.

In October 2008, a customer complained that Hutkin violated securities laws by alleging that Hutkin overcharged certain corporate debt securities. The claim settled in the amount of $52,958.

In June 1993, a customer complained that Hutkin violated securities laws by alleging that Hutkin engaged in unsuitable investment advice and churning. The claim settled in the amount of $23,000.

In June 1992, a customer complained that Hutkin violated securities laws by alleging that Hutkin engaged in unsuitable investment advice and churning. The claim settled in the amount of $130,000.

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shutterstock_145368937-300x225The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Financial Advisor Mark Jones (Jones), currently employed by Merrill Lynch, has been subject to at least nine customer complaints during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Jones’ customer complaints alleges that Jones recommended unsuitable investments in various investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In May 2019, a customer complained that Jones violated the securities laws by alleging that Jones engaged in material misrepresentations. The claim settled in the amount of $70,026.

In February 2014, a customer complained that Jones violated the securities laws by alleging that Jones engaged in unsuitable investment advice, and material misrepresentations. The claim settled in the amount of $26,250.

In April 2002, a customer complained that Jones violated the securities laws by alleging that Jones engaged in unsuitable investment advice. $400,000 in damages were granted.

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shutterstock_82649419-300x213According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Felipe Henao Vargas (Henao), currently employed by Insigneo Securities, LLC (Insigneo Securities), has been accused by a customer of investing in a VIX related investment.  ETFs that invest in the VIX are part of a group of group of ETFs considered to be leveraged exchanged traded funds or Non-Traditional ETFs.

As a background, Non-Traditional ETFs behave drastically different and have different risk qualities from traditional ETFs.  While traditional ETFs seek to mirror an index or benchmark, Non-Traditional ETFs use a combination of derivatives instruments and debt to multiply returns on underlining assets, often attempting to generate 2 to 3 times the return of the underlining asset class.  Non-Traditional ETFs are also used to earn the inverse result of the return of the benchmark.

However, the risks of holding Non-Traditional ETFs go beyond merely multiplying the return on the index.  Instead, Non-Traditional ETFs are generally designed to be used only for short term trading as opposed to traditional ETFs.  The use of leverage employed by these funds causes their long-term values to be dramatically different than the underlying benchmark over long periods of time.  For example, between December 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009, the Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Index gained two percent while the ProShares Ultra Oil and Gas, a fund seeking to deliver twice the index’s daily return fell six percent.  In another example, the ProShares UltraShort Oil and Gas, seeks to deliver twice the inverse of the index’s daily return fell by 26 percent over the same period.

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shutterstock_182004416-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Stuart Pearl (Pearl), currently employed by International Assets Investment Management, LLC (International Assets) and formerly employed by David A. Noyes & Company (David A. Noyes) has been subject to five customer complaints, two terminations for cause, and one regulatory action during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the complaints against Pearl concern allegations of unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and margin trading among other causes of action.

In June 2015 Pearl was terminated by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise Financial) for violation of company policy related to use of discretion in non-discretionary accounts and complying with supervision.

In October 2017 FINRA sanctioned Pearl finding that Pearl consented to the sanctions and findings that he effected securities transactions in a customer’s account on several occasions on a discretionary basis without prior written authorization from the customer and without prior written acceptance of the account as discretionary from his member firm. FINRA also found that Pearl made unsuitable recommendations in two other customers’ joint brokerage account when he recommended the customers use margin to effect several trades. According to FINRA, the recommendations made by Pearl to purchase securities on margin were unsuitable in light of the customers’ investment objectives, risk tolerances, and their financial situation and needs. FINRA found that these purchases caused the account to be subject to seven margin calls during the relevant period.

In March 2019 David A. Noyes permitted Pearl to resign stating that Stuart Pearl resigned while on heightened supervision. The firm claims that Pearl had not followed his heightened supervision plan and would have been terminated had he not resigned.

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shutterstock_183549914-300x200Broker Sebastian Wyczawski, currently employed at Joseph Stone Capital, LLC., (Joseph Stone) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career. His most recent customer complaints allege unsuitability and failure to supervise.  According to a BrokerCheck report, in June 2018, Wyczawski was alleged of making unsuitable recommendations.  This matter against him settled for $17,500.  Additionally in December 2019, a customer complaint was filed against Wyczawski for his alleged failure to supervise. In his Broker Comment, Wyczawski states: “I am being named in this arbitration due to the fact that I was the OSJ branch owner.” The matter, for the requested amount of $235,000 is still pending. Moreover, in March 2004, Wyczawski was alleged to have engaged in unauthorized trading. This matter ultimately settled for $37,500.

Brokers have an obligation to make only suitable recommendations for investments to the client.  There are many investments that are not appropriate for the majority of investors or for certain investors given their risk tolerance, age, and other factors.  Brokers should not present these investment options to clients.  There are two screens that brokers must employ to determine whether an investment is suitable for a client.  First, there must be a reasonable basis for the recommendation – meaning that the product has been investigated and due diligence conducted into the investment’s features, benefits, risks, and other relevant factors.  The broker must conclude that the investment is suitable for at least some investors and some securities may be suitable for no one.  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.

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shutterstock_102242143-300x169According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Bruce Ciallella (Ciallella), currently employed by Cabot Lodge Securities LLC (Cabot Lodge) has been subject to at least seven customer complaints during the course of his career.  Ciallella’s customer complaints alleges that Ciallella recommended unsuitable investments in various investments and makes allegations including fraud, excessive trading, unsuitable investments, concentrated stock positions, failure to properly manage account, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentation and omissions among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In November 2019 a customer complained that Ciallella violated the securities laws by alleging that Ciallella made investments recommendations from 2015 to 2018 that the client alleges involved self-dealing and fraud, excessive trading, unsuitable investments, concentrated stock positions, failure to properly manage account, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation and omissions, and violation of the Florida securities and investor protection act. The claim alleges $300,670.64 in damages and is currently pending.

Another claim brought in October 2011 from a customer complained that Ciallella violated the securities laws by alleging that Ciallella made investments recommendations that were illegal.  The claim alleged $150,000 in damages and settled for $20,000.

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shutterstock_88744093-297x300The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Thomas Duggan (Duggan), currently employed by Aegis Capital Corp. (Aegis Capital) 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), Duggan’s customer complaints alleges that Duggan recommended unsuitable investments in various investments and makes allegations including common law fraud, gross negligence, breach of contract, and elder abuse among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In January 2020 a customer complained that Duggan violated the securities laws by alleging that Duggan made investments recommendations from June 2017 through August 2019 that were unsuitable and claimed common law fraud, gross negligence, breach of contract, and elder abuse. The claim alleges $1,079,155 in damages and is currently pending.

In January 2019 a customer complained that Duggan violated the securities laws by alleging that Duggan made investments recommendations from June 2017 through 2019 were in breach of his fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and misrepresentation.  The claim alleges $80,000 in damages and is currently pending.

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