Is Copy Trading on its way to the United States? Adam Gana of Gana Weinstein, LLP spoke with the great Edward Robinson about the pitfalls with copy trading in the United States and the legal ramifications in the article below. Happy reading to our loyal followers!
The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Ronald Hannes (Hannes) has been accused by a financial regulator of engaging in converting client funds among other allegations. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Hannes was employed by his prior employer Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. (Woodbury Financial) prior to being investigated concerning his activities. If you have been a victim of Hannes’ alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.
In December 2019, Hannes was terminated by Woodbury Financial for cause after the firm received notice from a client that funds were paid to the representative for purchase of a life insurance contract that were not forwarded to the life insurance company.
Thereafter, FINRA investigated Woodbury Financials’ disclosures and Hannes refused to cooperate with FINRA. FINRA found that Hannes consented to sanctions and findings that he failed to produce documents and information requested by FINRA during its investigation into allegations that he converted customer funds.
In March 2020, the Securities Division of the State of Washington filed a complaint against Hannes alleging that from approximately 2003 to 2019, Hannes engaged in an extensive, long-term fraud against his Woodbury Financial clients by convincing them to write checks to Hannes Financial Services, Inc. for off-the-books investments and then used the money for other purposes. In total, Hannes is alleged to have defrauded at least nineteen clients out of at least $2.9 million.
The State of Washington alleges that Hannes generally approached existing clients and misrepresented to them that he had an opportunity for a fixed-rate investment in either a bond, or in a unit investment trust which functioned similarly to a bond. It is alleged that Hannes did not provide investors with any offering documents for to the investments or financial statements and in some cases did not even identify the company in which the client would be investing. Instead, it is alleged that Hannes most commonly stated that the investments offered a return of 5% to 7%, and could be rolled over into new investments at the end of their fixed terms in the two-to-five-year range. Investors are then alleged to have been solicited to roll over their investments rather than requesting withdrawals. Hannes is alleged to have had the clients write the checks to HFS, whose bank accounts he controlled as the owner of the company. Hannes is then alleged to have created false account statements and company names to provide the appearance that actual investments had been made.
The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck reports that financial advisor Mark Cline (Cline), currently employed by National Securities Corporation (National Securities) has been subject to at least 12 customer complaints and one criminal matter during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Cline’s customer complaints involves the sale of private placements. The complaints allege that Cline recommended unsuitable investments in these private placements.
At Gana Weinstein LLP, we often hear from investors who were recommended by their advisors to purchase high risk private placement investments and suffered substantial – often crushing losses as a result. Our firm regularly represents these investors in disputes with the advisors and brokers who sold these products without adequate disclosure. Brokers have a responsibility to conduct due diligence on all private placement offerings. Due diligence includes an investigation into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, issuer, history, and other relevant factors.
Private placements are bond, equity, or other debt instruments issued in reliance on a statutory or rule-based exemption from the registration requirements administered by the (SEC). The private placement industry was created based upon the reasoning that exempting private placements from registration is appropriate where purchasers have the economic ability, sophistication, and the professional advice necessary to do without the regular protection afforded by the disclosures required through registration. According to sources, a total of $33.5 billion was raised in 647 transactions through the third quarter of 2018.
The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Christopher Roumayeh (Roumayeh) has been accused by a financial regulator of engaging in undisclosed outside business activities (OBAs) and private securities transactions among other allegations. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Roumayeh was employed by his prior employer Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) prior to being investigated concerning his activities. If you have been a victim of Roumayeh’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.
In May 2020, Roumayeh was sanctioned by FINRA which found that he consented to sanctions and the findings that he engaged in outside business activities without providing prior written notice to his member firm. FINRA found that Roumayeh and a firm customer purchased a franchise involved in the professional video gaming industry. FINRA alleged that Roumayeh managed the franchise’s day-to-day operations, formed corporate entities related to the franchise’s operations, served as an officer and director for them, and solicited prospective investors in the franchise. Roumayeh further is alleged to have concealed his relationship with the entities by forming them in his wife’s name and named her as the sole authorized representative on an entity’s bank account.
In addition, FINRA also found that Roumayeh engaged in other OBAs such as forming and managing a separate limited liability company that he purchased commercial real estate through. Roumayeh then is alleged to have made false statements to the firm on annual compliance questionnaires concerning his outside business activities. Finally, FINRA also found that Roumayeh participated in a private securities transaction by soliciting and facilitated the investment of a publicly-traded company in the franchise. Roumayeh’s is alleged to have participated in identifying other potential investors, responding to questions from the company during its due diligence, and negotiating the terms and structure of the company’s investment. To facilitate the company’s $5.5 million investment, FINRA claims that Roumayeh formed a new holding company that he sold and issued shares of preferred stock to the company through.
The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Shane Appelbaum (Appelbaum), currently employed by Herbet J. Sims & Co, Inc. (Herbert J. Sims) has been subject to at least two customer complaints and one criminal matter during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), one of Appelbaum’s customer complaints likely involves the sale of structured products. The complaint alleges that Appelbaum recommended unsuitable investments in what are referred to as CDs issued by several banks.
In February 2020 a customer complained that Appelbaum violated the securities laws by alleging that Appelbaum made unsuitable sales of $75,000 in a Bank of America CD purchased in Oct. 2014, maturing 2030 and a $240,000 Citibank CD purchased in Jan. 2014, maturing 2034 purchased for the partnership which is beneficially owned by an elderly husband and wife. The claim alleges $86,864.90 and is currently pending.
In June 2018 a customer complained that Appelbaum violated the securities laws by alleging that Appelbaum’s investment recommendations involved unsuitable trades, negligence, fraud, and misrepresentation. The claim was settled for $40,000.
Structured products range in risk from benign to extreme. However, most structured products produce inferior risk/return profiles than ordinary debt or equity instruments because the brokerage firms that issue these products seek to profit from the spread between the payment to investors and the amount of money the brokerage firm can make from the issuance. When dealing with some of the more complex structured products most investors will lack the ability to understand the merits of investments nor are many structured products appropriate for investors seeking a fixed or reliable income and preservation of capital.
The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating recommendations by brokerage firms for their clients to invest in RW Holdings NNN REIT Inc., formerly known as Rich Uncles NNN REIT Inc.,- a non-traded real estate investment trust (non-traded REIT). RW Holdings originally sold shares for $10.00. The fund claims to have an estimated net asset value per share of $6.00. However, secondary market trading would likely value this REIT substantially lower in value.
As a background, RW Holdings NNN REIT’s real estate portfolio totals 2.4 million square feet, 45 properties divided into 19 retail properties, 14 office properties, and 12 industrial properties located in 14 states. The portfolio also includes approximate 72.7 percent tenant-in-common interest in an office property in Santa Clara, California.
In May 2020 The REIT said that it was suspended its offering and its plans to declare a revised net asset value per share later that month, as well as a revised distribution rate. RW Holdings expected that both will be lower due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement the REIT claimed “Given our inability to collect 100 percent of contractual rents, we are re-evaluating our current distribution rate…,”
More recently, the REIT published the new share valuation showing substantial losses and write downs and reduced its dividend ratio from $0.7 shares per ordinary share to $0.35 shares – a substantial decline.
According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker James Parrelly (Parrelly), formerly associated with Investment Planners, Inc. (Investment Planners), has been subject to at least eight customer complaints, three regulatory complaints, and one employment termination for cause during his career. Several of those complaints against Parrelly concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning or excessive trading among other securities laws violations.
In June 2020, Parrelly was terminated by Investment Planners which alleged that at time of his resignation Parrelly was on heightened supervision and was engaging or had engaged in activities in violation of firm policies and/or FINRA rules, including: (1) use of personal email and texts to communicate with firm clients regarding their accounts; (2) failing to abide by terms of his heightened supervision plan (by continuing to use his personal email and texts and by not providing copies of his personal emails and texts to the firm); and (3) unauthorized trading. Parrelly then resigned in response to the anticipated commencement of an internal review into his activities.
In May 2020, FINRA suspended Parrelly finding that he consented to findings that he executed discretionary transactions in the securities account of a customer pursuant to the customer’s prior verbal authorization, but without written authorization from the customer or written approval from his member firm.
In April 2019 a customer complained that Parrelly violated the securities laws by alleging that Parrelly engaged in sales practice violations related to churning, negligence of duty and unsuitable investments. The claim is currently pending and seeks $500,000 in damages.
Advisor William Morrow (Morrow), currently employed by Concorde Investment Services, LLC (Concorde Investment) and formerly employed by Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial) has been subject to at least 14 customer complaints and one employment termination for cause during the course of his career. According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, tenant-in-common programs, and private placements. Morrow runs his securities business through a d/b/a called Financial Designs, LTD. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.
In May 2020 a customer complained that Morrow violated the securities laws by alleging that Morrow engaged in sales practice violations related to engaging in investments were high risk and not in line with their stated objectives and risk tolerance. The claim alleges $100,000 in damages and is currently pending.
In February 2015 a customer complained that Morrow violated the securities laws by alleging that Morrow engaged in sales practice violations related to engaging in unsuitable investments, common law fraud, and other violations in the sale of a tenant in common investment purchased in 2006. The claim alleged $730,000 damages and settled for $100,000.
The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate and represent investors who lost money in The Parking REIT (formerly known as the MVP REIT II) a non-traded real estate investment trust (Non-Traded REIT). The Parking REIT claims to own parking lots and that an investment in the REIT provides benefits including, low operating and maintenance costs, potential for long-term capital appreciation, redevelopment opportunities, a fragmented Industry, and heavy demand.
Several years ago the board of The Parking REIT announced that it would be suspending the company’s distributions. The Board claimed that the move would preserve capital in order to maintain sufficient liquidity to continue to operate the business and maintain compliance with debt covenants.
In a letter dated April 13, 2020, The Parking REIT provided more bad news for investors. The company stated that “The company faces significant legal expenses related to pending lawsuits, an SEC investigation, and legal and consulting fees in connection with our exploration of potential strategic alternatives to provide liquidity to stockholders.” Further, in order for the directors and officiers to protect themselves from increasing threates of liability the REIT paid “directors & officers liability insurance premiums added approximately $2.0 million to our general and administrative expenses in 2019.” In addition, the REIT announced that “increasing expenses and general economic conditions are expected to prohibit The Parking REIT management and board of directors from considering a reinstatement of common stock and preferred stock distributions for the foreseeable future.”
Finally, the REIT claimed that no liquidity event may occur stating “there can be no assurance that the company will cause a liquidity event to occur in the near future or at all.”
Advisor Christopher Shaw (Shaw), currently employed by Pruco Securities LLC (Pruco) and formerly employed by Kalos Capital, Inc. (Kalos) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during the course of his career. According to a BrokerCheck report the customer complaints concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements. Shaw runs his securities business through a d/b/a called CJS Wealth Management. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.
In February 2020 a customer complained that Shaw violated the securities laws by alleging that Shaw engaged in sales practice violations related to engaging in misrepresentations and unsuitable recommendations. The claim alleges $500,000 in damages and is currently pending.
In November 2019 a customer complained that Shaw violated the securities laws by alleging that Shaw engaged in sales practice violations related to breach of fiduciary duty and unsuitable investments. The claim alleges $350,000 in damages and is currently pending.
In July 2019 a customer complained that Shaw violated the securities laws by alleging that Shaw engaged in sales practice violations related to unsuitable investments in alternative securities between November 2012 and May 2017. The claim alleges $450,000 in damages and is currently pending.