According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former advisor Scott Kozak (Kozak), formerly associated with Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) in Highlands Ranch, Colorado has been accused by his former firm and barred by FINRA over unapproved securities. In addition, Kozak has four customer complaints on his record.
In May 2018 FINRA filed a notice of investigation stating that FINRA has made a preliminary determination to recommend disciplinary action be brought against Kozak for potential violations of engaging in private securities transactions and outside business activities for the period July 2011 to March 2017, without prior notice to or approval from his member firm, Cetera Advisors.
Thereafter, in July 2018 Cetera terminated Kozak stating that he violated policies concerning personal securities transactions.
At this time it is unclear the nature or scope of the alleged outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions. Kozak’s public disclosures list several OBAs including Kozak & Associates – his securities d/b/a, K&A Charities – a charitable arm of Kozak & Associates, IGC, LLC – a manufacturing company that he owns, and Dominican Home Health agency – where Kozak serves as a board member. It is unknown if FINRA’s claims relate to any of these entities.
Often accompanied with either disclosed or undisclosed OBAs is the risk of the sale of unapproved investment products – a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws. 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. Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds. When advisors convert or misappropriate funds they often created businesses or other vehicles to serve as a cover for the theft of funds. However, federal securities laws and the FINRA rules require firms to 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.
Kozak entered the securities industry in 1989. From July 2001 until August 2018 Kozak was registered with Cetera out of the firm’s Highlands Ranch, Colorado office location.
Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. Investors 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.