The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating reports that advisor Nicolas Barrios (Barrios) engaged in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) that were not approved by his brokerage firm resulting in potential fraudulent investments. Barrios, formerly registered with UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS) out of Winter Haven, Florida was barred from the financial industry according to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In addition, Barrios disclosed at least four customer complaints and one employment termination for cause.
In April 2019 UBS terminated Barrios for cause alleging that he was discharged after stating during a firm review: (1) he arranged for client to invest away from firm in private company; (2) he personally invested in that company without firm approval; and (3) he used personal email to communicate with client’s family in an attempt to evade firm detection. UBS claims to have subsequently learned that at least seven of Barrios’ clients moved money from UBS accounts to outside bank accounts from which they wrote checks to an entity with which Barrios is affiliated
In June 2019 FINRA found that Barrios consented to the sanctions and findings that he failed to provide FINRA with requested documents and information in connection with FINRA’s investigation into allegations that Barrios mismanaged and committed fraud with respect to a customer’s account. Accordingly, Barrios was automatically barred from the securities industry.
At this time it is unclear what OBA Barrios engaged in that FINRA was investigating. Barrios’s public disclosures state that he was involved in a auto boat broker dealer business. It is unclear if these OBAs were the subject of FINRA’s investigation.
Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling fraudulent securities sales. The sale of unapproved investment products – is 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 create 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.
Barrios entered the securities industry in 1991. From November 2008 until May 2019 Barrios was registered with UBS out of the firm’s Winter Haven, Florida 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.