According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor James Lowther (Lowther), employed by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), has been subject to two customer complaints. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Lowther has been accused by a customers of unsuitable investment advice concerning various investment products including energy stocks that likely include master limited partnerships (MLPs). The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor related losses and potential legal remedies due to recommendations to investor in oil and gas and commodities related investments.
The most recent claim was filed in August 2017 and alleges unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from November 2010 to July 2017. The customer claimed $300,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.
In July 2016 another customer alleged that Lowther engaged in unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, failure to follow instructions, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from January 2013 to July 2016. The customer claims $1,000,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.
Our firm handles claims and is also investigating securities claims against brokerage firms over sales practices related to the recommendations of oil & gas and commodities products such as exchange traded notes (ETNs), structured notes, private placements, master limited partnerships (MLPs), leveraged ETFs, mutual funds, and individual stocks.
Before recommending investments in oil and gas and commodities related investments, brokers and advisors must ensure that the investment is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company in order to understand the risks and prospects of the company. Oil and gas and commodities related investments have been recommended by brokers under the assumption that commodities prices would continue to go up. However, brokers who sell oil and gas and commodities products are obligated to understand the risks of these investments and convey them to clients.
The number of complaints against Lowther are unusual compared to his peers. According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters. However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher. Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.
Lowther entered the securities industry in 2010. Since November 2010 Lowther has been associated with Merill Lynch out of the firm’s Sarasota, Florida office location.
At Gana Weinstein LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to inappropriate investments in oil and gas related securities. Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.