Articles Tagged with Coastal Equities

According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Dudley Stephens (Stephens), formerly associated with Coastal Equities, Inc. (Coastal Equities), in September 2018, was sanshutterstock_99315272-300x300ctioned and barred from the securities industry by FINRA due to failures to provide documents and information requested by the regulator.  In addition, Stephens has three customer complaints, one termination, and one additional regulatory complaint.

In July 2018 Stephens was terminated by Coastal Equities on grounds that he was being reviewed over suspicious letters of authorization for third party wires.  Thereafter, FINRA barred Stephens.

In December 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that excessive and unauthorized commissions were charged of approximately $50,000 per year for 2.5 years in her advisory account. The client also alleged that $100,000 was invested in an unauthorized private securities transaction was a sham.  The claim alleges $250,000 in damages and is currently pending.

The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.

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shutterstock_184429547-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Sam Aziz (Aziz), formerly employed by David A. Noyes & Co. (David Noyes) has been subject to at least three customer complaints, one regulatory investigation, and two terminations for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of Aziz’s customer complaints allege that Aziz made unsuitable recommendations in a variety of investments.

In October 2018 FINRA opened an investigation into Aziz’s activities.  On October 24, 2018, FINRA made a preliminary determination to recommend that disciplinary action be brought against Aziz alleging that he made potential violations, specifically excessive trading and unsuitable recommendations of the use of margin), attempting to settle away a customer’s complaint), and use of an undisclosed personal email account and text messages to conduct securities business.

In October 2018 Aziz’s firm, David Noyes, terminated him citing the FINRA investigation as a reason.

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shutterstock_25054879-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Coastal Equities, Inc. (Coastal Equities) broker Andrew Pravlik (Pravlik). According to BrokerCheck records, Pravlik has been subject to a regulatory matter in which the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned Pravlik for various violations of the securities laws. In 2009, Pravlik falsely labeled 30 redemption requests as Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) when he entered them into the firm’s mutual fund system. By doing so, he prevented a deferred sales charge that would have applied to the redemptions, and falsified the firms records.  In May 2010, Pravlik was fined $5,000 and suspended for 90 days.

In addition, Pravlik also been subject to two customer complaints concerning unsuitable risky investments, one of which is still pending

In October 2017, customers alleged that Pravlik placed them in unsuitable investments that did not match with their investment portfolio. The customer has requested damages of $175,000. This dispute is still pending.

shutterstock_114775264According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Douglas Bevers (Bevers) has been the subject of at least five customer complaints, two regulatory actions, and one employment separation. The customer complaints against Bevers allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and churning (excessive trading), among other claims. The employment separation resulted from allegations that Bevers violated firm policies by allowing a third party to direct orders without obtaining permission from the client in writing.

Bevers entered the securities industry in 1973. From July 2003, until February 2014, Bevers was associated with Boenning & Scattergood, Inc. Thereafter, from February 2014, till present Bevers has been registered as a broker with Coastal Equities, Inc.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. Many of the claims against Bevers involving claims of unauthorized trading, churning, and excessive trading.

shutterstock_146470052This article follows up on a recent article reported in Reuters concerning Atlas Energy LP’s private placement partnerships in oil and gas. Atlas Resources LLC, a subsidiary the energy group, has filed documents with the SEC for Atlas Resources Series 34-2014 LP stating that it seeks to raise as much as $300 million by Dec. 31 of 2014. The deal allows investors to participate in investments where advances in drilling technology have turned previously inaccessible reservoirs of oil into viable prospects. In addition, Atlas promises to invest up to $145 million of its own capital alongside investors.

In the last article we explored how the house seems more likely to win on these deals over investors. But beyond the inherent risks with speculating on oil and gas and unknown oil deposits most investors don’t realize the deals are often unfair to investors. In a normal speculative investment as the investment risk goes up the investor demands greater rewards to compensate for the additional risk. However, with oil and gas private placements the risks are sky high and the rewards simply don’t match up.

In order to counter this criticism, issuers say that the tax benefits of their deals where the investor can write off more than 90 percent of their initial outlay the year they make it helps defray the risk and increase the value proposition. First, the same tax advantage claims are often nominal compared to the principal risk of loss of the investment as seen by Puerto Rican investors in the UBS Bond Funds who have now seen their investments decline by 50% or more in some cases. Second, often times brokers sell oil and gas investments indiscriminately to the young and old who have lower incomes and cannot take advantage of the tax benefits.

shutterstock_103610648As recently reported in Reuters, Atlas Energy LP has marketed itself to investors as a way to get into the U.S. energy boom. By contributing at least $25,000 in a private placement partnership that will drill for oil and gas in states such as Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania and share in revenues generated from the wells. Atlas Resources LLC, a subsidiary the energy group, has filed documents with the SEC for Atlas Resources Series 34-2014 LP stating that it seeks to raise as much as $300 million by Dec. 31 of 2014. The deal sounds good when pitched: participate in investments where advances in drilling technology have turned previously inaccessible reservoirs of fossil fuels into potentially viable prospects and to boot Atlas will invest up to $145 million of its own capital alongside investors. Through this method and similar deals, oil and gas projects have issued nearly 4,000 private placements since 2008 seeking to raise as much as $122 billion.

But before you take the plunge a review of the Atlas’s offering memorandum reveals some red flags and given Atlas’ past failure rate investors should think twice. First, up to $45 million of the money raised will be paid to Atlas affiliate Anthem Securities that will then be turned over to as commissions to broker-dealers who pitch the deal to investors. Up to $39 million more will be used to buy drilling leases from another affiliate. Think investors will get a fair price on the leases when Atlas controls both sides of the deal? More conflicts ahead as Atlas affiliated suppliers may also get up to $53 million for buying drilling and transport equipment. Next, an additional $8 million of Atlas’s investment is a 15 percent markup on estimated equipment costs. Finally, Atlas will pay itself nearly $52 million in various other fees and markups.

In sum, at least 40% of Atlas’s $145 million investment alongside mom and pop goes right back to the company. In addition, Atlas’ profits don’t stop there, when the venture starts generating revenue Atlas is entitled to 33% before accounting for those payments and markups. In the end, not much of a risk at all for Atlas.

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