Articles Tagged with Finance 500

shutterstock_186471755The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against former Finance 500, Inc. (Finance 500) broker Marc Jaffe (Jaffe).  According to BrokerCheck records Jaffe was recently sanctioned by FINRA and discharged by his prior employer in or about September 2015.  The FINRA action found that Jaffe failed to timely disclose tax liens on his record.  Shortly thereafter, Finance 500 terminated Jaffe for cause stating that the broker entered into a commission sharing agreement in a state where he was not registered.

In addition, Jaffe has been subject to an eye popping 36 customer complaints and two judgements or liens totaling over $700,000 in tax lien debt. The lien disclosures on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services.  A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_156562427The investment attorneys of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating regulatory complaints filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against brokerage firm Finance 500, Inc. (Finance 500) and its employees including William Watson, Robert Hicks, Geoffrey Schiffrin, Paul Savage (Disciplinary Proceedings Nos. 2013038091902, 2013036837802). The complaints largely focus on allegations that the firm failed to supervise the issuance, sales, and trading of various low-priced securities or penny stocks.

According to one of the complaints, FINRA alleged that Finance 500 raised millions for four different penny stock issuers. FINRA alleged that from June 2012 to June 2014 Finance 500 failed to enforce a reasonable supervisory system to review and monitor sales of private placements by its investment banking department in the areas of due diligence, suitability, and marketing materials provided to customers. In addition, FINRA alleged that from March 2013 through June 2014, the firm used or permitted issuers to use, private placement marketing materials that were not fair and balanced and made misleading unsupported statements.

While FINRA’s investigation focused on many areas of securities issuance, one area focused on was the firm’s suitability procedures for private placements which were found to be not reasonable. FINRA stated that Finance 500 did not have an adequate procedures regarding how it would collect the suitability documents from each customer and in some cases the documents that it did collect were incomplete and did not include all requested information. In addition, FINRA found that the firm lacked procedures regarding how and when supervisory approval would be given for a particular customer and at times allowed its supervisory system to be evaded by permitting customers solicited by the firm’s registered representatives to make investments directly with the issuer.

shutterstock_168478292The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints and a FINRA action against broker William Watson (Watson). The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought an enforcement action (FINRA No. 2013038091901) against Watson. In addition, there are at least five customer complaints against Watson and four judgements or liens. In the FINRA regulatory action against Watson, the agency alleged that from March 2013 through June 2014 while employed at Finance 500, Inc. (Finance 500) Watson participated in securities offerings with four different issuers where he used marketing materials that were not fair and balanced because they failed to discuss each of the issuers poor financial performance and made misleading unwarranted or unsupported statements.

FINRA alleged that Watson was the Vice President of Corporate Finance at Finance 500 and identified companies that needed financing and worked with those companies to sell the companies’ securities to customers. FINRA found that Watson used or permitted issuers to use marketing presentations that were not fair and balanced, made misleading, unwarranted or unsupported statements, and failed to disclose Finance 500’s name and involvement in the offerings. FINRA determined that Watson also sent these presentations to retail customers through email and used them on telephone conference calls with retail investors. Watson also allegedly used, or permitted issuers to use, powerpoint presentations that contained inadequate risk disclosure and failed to provide a balanced presentation of the risks and rewards of the investment.

Specifically, FINRA alleged that for issuer by the initialed “BB” which upon information and belief refers to Bill the Butcher, Inc., (BB) the presentations failed to disclose BB’s accumulated deficits, net losses, or the fact that BB’s auditor had issued a “going concern” opinion. In addition, the BB presentations compared the sales-to-investment ratio of BB, a start-up company, to that of well established fast-food restaurants. Similar issues were cited by FINRA for presentations for issuers initialed CP, GE, and SC. FINRA found the lack of disclosures from the foregoing presentations to be in violation of industry rules.

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