FINRA Sanctions William Watson Over False and Misleading Marketing of Securities

shutterstock_168478292The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints and a FINRA action against broker William Watson (Watson). The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought an enforcement action (FINRA No. 2013038091901) against Watson. In addition, there are at least five customer complaints against Watson and four judgements or liens. In the FINRA regulatory action against Watson, the agency alleged that from March 2013 through June 2014 while employed at Finance 500, Inc. (Finance 500) Watson participated in securities offerings with four different issuers where he used marketing materials that were not fair and balanced because they failed to discuss each of the issuers poor financial performance and made misleading unwarranted or unsupported statements.

FINRA alleged that Watson was the Vice President of Corporate Finance at Finance 500 and identified companies that needed financing and worked with those companies to sell the companies’ securities to customers. FINRA found that Watson used or permitted issuers to use marketing presentations that were not fair and balanced, made misleading, unwarranted or unsupported statements, and failed to disclose Finance 500’s name and involvement in the offerings. FINRA determined that Watson also sent these presentations to retail customers through email and used them on telephone conference calls with retail investors. Watson also allegedly used, or permitted issuers to use, powerpoint presentations that contained inadequate risk disclosure and failed to provide a balanced presentation of the risks and rewards of the investment.

Specifically, FINRA alleged that for issuer by the initialed “BB” which upon information and belief refers to Bill the Butcher, Inc., (BB) the presentations failed to disclose BB’s accumulated deficits, net losses, or the fact that BB’s auditor had issued a “going concern” opinion. In addition, the BB presentations compared the sales-to-investment ratio of BB, a start-up company, to that of well established fast-food restaurants. Similar issues were cited by FINRA for presentations for issuers initialed CP, GE, and SC. FINRA found the lack of disclosures from the foregoing presentations to be in violation of industry rules.

Watson entered the securities industry in 1982. From July 2008 until August 2009, Watson was registered with Morris Financial, Inc. From August 2009 until March 2011, Watson was registered with Choice Investments, Inc. From February 2011 until August 2014, Watson was registered with Finance 500. Finally, from August 2014 until December 2015, Watson was registered with Freedom Investors Corp. out of the firm’s Brookfield, Wisconsin office location.

The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP represent investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.

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