Lloyd Johnston Subject to Complaints Over Alternative Investments

shutterstock_7947664-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against advisor Lloyd Johnston (Johnston).  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Johnston, formerly registered with Capital Financial Services, Inc. (Capital Financial) out of Spokane, Washington was barred from the financial industry.  According to a BrokerCheck report,  Johnston has been subject to at least two customer complaints, four regulatory actions, two investigations, one bankruptcy disclosure, one termination, and 15 tax liens.  Johnston’s customer complaints allege that Johnston engaged in unsuitable sales of alternative investments and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have handed many cases with these types of investments causing investor losses.

In September 2018 Johnston failed to disclose or timely disclose tax liens with a balance exceeding $1,000,000 and violated the terms of a Conditional Registration Order, which resulted in the revocation of his license.  Large tax liens on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts.  In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services.

In May 2018 Johnston failed to respond to FINRA’s request for information and was suspended indefinitely.

In May 2018 a customer alleged that Johnston’s sales of alternative investments were unsuitable to the customer’s investment needs.  The exact amount of damages cannot be determined.  The claim settled for $35,000.

DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

According to studies, non-traded REITs have historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do.  Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.  In addition, these products often continue to deceive investors for years through their control over their own prices, returning investor capital as a false distribution from operations, high fees on their redemption programs, and control of pertinent investor information.  Investors often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment in these products nor do they function as their advisors claim they do.

These types of alternative investment products have become so popular among brokers without providing any benefit to investors that many states now limit investors from investing more than 10% of their liquid assets in Non-Traded REITs and BDCs.  Many states impose these limitations because no rational person can come up with an argument to support the continued sale of these products.  Unfortunately for investors there is no regulatory authority in the United States with the ability to analyze investments and ban flawed investment products.

Johnston entered the securities industry in 1987.  From June 2006 to April 2018, Johnston was registered with Capital Financial out of the firm’s Spokane, Washington office location.

Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation.  At Gana Weinstein LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts.  Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.