Articles Tagged with Douglas Melzer

shutterstock_180735251The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned and barred broker Douglas Melzer (Melzer) concerning allegations that between November 2011, and May 2012, while registered with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (Wells Fargo), Melzer solicited four customers to invest $2,000,000 in an outside investment without providing his firm notice. According to FINRA Melzer was compensated at least $26,500. Unapproved sales activities and transactions are referred to as “selling away” in the industry.

Melzer entered the securities industry in 2008 when he became registered with Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo terminated Melzer’s registration in January 2013 in connection with his unapproved sales activity. Melzer was registered with Park Avenue Securities LLC from March 2013, through January 2015.

The conduct alleged against Melzer is a “selling away” securities violations. 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. However, even though the brokerage firm claim ignorance of their advisor’s activities, under the FINRA rules, a brokerage firm owes a duty to properly 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.

shutterstock_71240The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned and barred broker Douglas Melzer (Melzer) concerning allegations that Melzer participated in four private securities transactions when four of his Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (Wells Fargo) customers invested $2,000,000 in a company called Aquatic Synthesis Unlimited (Aquatic Synthesis) through investment contracts that were not approved by Wells Fargo. According to FINRA, Melzer received at least $27,000 plus a 2.5% member interest in the investment as compensation for the recommendations.  FINRA found that Melzer failed to provide written notice to the firm or receive approval prior to participating in the private securities transactions also known as “selling away” in the industry.

Aquatic Synthesis is a gas drilling waste water treatment facility located in Indiana County.  According to news sources , in or about August 2013, after several spills and at least four violation orders, state environmental regulators have shut down the company’s operations.  The state Department of Environmental Protection revoked Aquatic Synthesis’ permit and started to use the company’s $1 million bond to begin cleaning up the site.

In addition, FINRA found that in May 2011, the firm became aware that Melzer had requested that the broker codes on certain accounts be altered. These codes are used by Wells Fargo to determine the appropriate split of commissions between Melzer and his partners. By changing the code, Melzer caused commissions that should have been paid to one of Melzer’s partners to be attributed to Melzer without the partner’s knowledge.

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