The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought an enforcement action (FINRA No. 2011025610501) against brokerage firm Braymen, Lambert and Noel Securities, Ltd. (BLNS) and the firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) Shannon Braymen (Braymen) resulting in a monetary sanction. FINRA’s allegations were that from April 2007 to November 2011 BLNS, acting through Braymen, failed to supervise its private placement securities business and the activities of brokers located in two offices. The firm was also accused of failing to register those two branch office locations. In addition, FINRA found that BLNS failed to conduct or to adequately document branch office inspections, and had inadequate supervisory systems and written supervisory procedures for non-branch office locations. Finally, FINRA found that BLNS and Braymen failed to capture and retain certain email correspondence.
BLNS is a member of FINRA and registered as a broker-dealer since March 2003, as a full-service broker-dealer. BLNS currently employs approximately 24 brokers and operates out of 4 branch offices. The firm conducts a securities business in corporate debt securities, over-the-counter equity securities, US government securities, mutual funds, options, private placements and variable contracts. BLNS is also authorized to underwrite corporate securities, proprietary trading and investment advisory services. Braymen entered the securities industry in February 1995. During Braymen’s career she has obtained various securities licenses and had supervisory responsibility for each of the supervisory areas complained of by FINRA.
FINRA’s findings highlighted supervisory deficiencies in a number of areas. One of FINRA’s findings was that BLNS and two brokers located in an unregistered branch office in San Antonio, Texas participated in nine private placement offerings. BLNS and Braymen were accused of failing to adequately supervise the firm’s participation in these nine offerings. FINRA found that the firm had no documentation of principal review and approval of any of the private placement documents, no documentation that a principal of the firm had conducted due diligence, and no documentation of principal review and approval of customer subscription documents. Review of subscription documents are required to determine the suitability of the investments for customers.
Moreover, FINRA found that although BLNS is the registered entity the firm permitted the San Antonio Office as a non-registered entity to enter into selling agreements with each of the nine issuers of the private placement offerings. FINRA found that BLNS was not a party to any of the selling agreements. In fact, according to FINRA BLNS was not even listed as the selling agent in the offering documents for six of the nine offerings. FINRA found that the San Antonio Office was instead listed as the selling agent while BLNS and Braymen permitted the commissions earned on sales of these offerings to be paid directly from the issuers to the San Antonio Office which then paid a portion of the commissions to BLNS.
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