FINRA Bars Christopher Tolmacs Over Borrowing Client Funds

shutterstock_143685652The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Christopher Tolmacs (Tolmacs) working out of Portage, Michigan alleging that the broker borrowed client funds.  The providing of loans or selling of promissory notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  According to the FINRA regulatory action (FINRA No. 20160489663-01) Tolmacs consented sanctions in the form of a permanent bar because he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course their investigation into allegations that he borrowed funds from multiple customers.

At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Tolmacs’ outside business activities and private securities transactions.  However, according to Tolmacs’ public records his outside business activities includes Harbinger Financial Group, Inc – listed as an insurance agency, and Harbinger Asset Management, Inc which is listed as a registered investment advisory firm.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

In addition, Tolmacs has been subject to significant tax liens totaling over $225,000 in late 2015.  Tax liens and judgements can provide an economic incentive to brokers to violate the securities laws to garner higher commissions and income.

Tolmacs entered the securities industry in 2003.  From April 2008 until March 2016, Tolmacs was associated with  Triad Advisors, Inc.

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.  However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion.  In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public.  Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

In cases of selling away the investor is unaware that the advisor’s investments are improper.  In many of these cases the investor will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is fired or charged by law enforcement, or stops returning client calls altogether.

Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of selling away and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.

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