The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints against broker Cory Bataan (Bataan). There are at least four customer complaints against Bataan and one employment termination for cause. The customer complaints against Bataan allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker engaged in churning, unauthorized trading, unsuitable trades, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentations among other claims. In addition, in August 2012, Empire Asset Management terminated Bataan alleging that their were violations of the firms policies and procedures.
When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.
Bataan is currently registered with, Aegis Capital Corp. (Aegis), a brokerage firm that has been identified as employing troublesome brokers. According to a recent study conducted by the Securities Litigation and Consulting Group entitled “How Widespread and Predictable is Stock Broker Misconduct?” the incidents of investor harm at Aegis is extraordinarily high. The study ranked Aegis as the worst brokerage firm finding that brokers at the firm had over a 35% misconduct rate. The study stated that investors should stay away from Aegis “Given their coworkers’ disclosure record as of 2014, 83.7% of the brokers at these six firms would be in the highest risk quintile as defined in the FINRA study and should be avoided by investors. The BrokerCheck reports for most of the brokers at these six firms should prominently display a skull and crossbones warning.”