Articles Tagged with FINRA attorney

shutterstock_7641514-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Andrew Grant (Grant), currently employed by Laidlaw & Company (UK) Ltd. (Laidlaw & Company) has been subject to at least one regulatory action and a customer complaint during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Mr. Grant’s customer complaints alleges that Mr. Grant recommended unsuitable investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In January 2020, FINRA initiated a regulatory action against Mr. Grant. Mr. Grant consented to the sanctions and findings. The findings involved Mr. Grant exercising discretionary trading in customers’ accounts, who did not give written authorization. Mr. Grant faced $5,000 in civil and administrative penalties/fines, along with suspension for 15 business days.

In August 2018, a customer complained that Mr. Grant violated the securities laws by alleging that Mr. Grant engaged in unsuitable investment advice for two years. The claim alleged $125,000 in damages and was closed-no action.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_102242143-300x169The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating broker Marilyn Zehntner (Zehntner), currently associated with Rhodes Securities, Inc. (Rhodes Securities) out of Fort Worth, Texas.  According to a BrokerCheck report, Zehntner has been subject to at least one customer dispute during her career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaint against Zehntner alleges breach of fiduciary duty.

In January 2017 customers filed a complaint alleging that Zehntner and her member firm, Rhodes Securities, violated the securities laws by, among other things, engaging in breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and breach of contract causing over $2,000,000 in damages.  The claim settled for $810,000.

Brokers are required under the securities laws to treat their clients fairly.  This obligation includes the duties to disclose material risks of the investments they recommend and to present products, particularly complex or confusing products, in a fair and balanced manner that allows the client to evaluate the recommendation.  Another important obligation advisors have is to make only suitable recommendations for investments to the client.  There are many investments that are not appropriate for the majority of investors or for certain investors given their risk tolerance, age, and other factors.  Advisors should not present these investment options to clients.  There are two screens that advisors must employ to determine whether an investment is suitable for a client.  First, there must be a reasonable basis for the recommendation – meaning that the product has been investigated and due diligence conducted into the investment’s features, benefits, risks, and other relevant factors.  The advisor must conclude that the investment is suitable for at least some investors and some securities may be suitable for no one.  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.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_191231699-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Wunderlich Securities, Inc. (Wunderlich Securities) broker Derrick Watts (Watts). According to BrokerCheck records, Watts has been subject to a regulatory matter in which the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned Watts for various violations of the securities laws including churning, otherwise known as excessive trading.  In March 2016, FINRA found that Watts failed to report his involvement in four unsatisfied civil judgments from 2009 to 2013 on his U4 registration form. Without admitting or denying the findings, Watts consented to the sanctions and the entry of findings. In April 2016, Watts was suspended for three months.

In addition to the FINRA sanctions, Watts has been subject to three customer complaints and two financial disclosures – including filing for bankruptcy and a tax lien.

In February 2016, Watts was discharged for bankruptcy due to failure in a real estate development that he was involved in. Bankruptcies and large tax liens are a potential sign that the advisor has difficulty managing their own finances. FINRA provides this information to the public because it is material for consumers to know whether or not their advisor’s financial situation influences the advisor’s recommendations.

shutterstock_175483226-300x300Are you hiring the a FINRA securities attorney to help you recover investment losses? This article will help you make the right choice when selecting a FINRA attorney by outlining the most important things to look out for. Consider these five questions to ensure you are hiring the best:

  1. Is the attorney reputable?

It is imperative to hire a reputable attorney for FINRA arbitration who has the necessary educational background, training, and results-oriented experience.  To ensure you are hiring the best securities attorney, look at the attorney’s practice areas, case experience, and client reviews.

shutterstock_177792281The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a regulatory complaint (Disciplinary No. 2015043159501) filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Kevin Murphy (Murphy). FINRA alleged that in or about November 2013, Murphy sold $1.2 million of shares and warrants in a private placement to four individuals and one limited partnership without his firm’s knowledge.

According to FINRA, in August and September, 2013, Murphy made a $1.2 million investment in a private placement for which TGP Securities, Inc. (TGP), Murphy’s brokerage firm, was providing brokerage services. In return for his investment, FINRA found that Murphy received two stock certificates totaling 600,000 Series F shares and two warrants exercisable for 300,000 common shares. On November 29, 2013, FINRA alleged that Murphy resold the Series F shares and the warrants to four individuals and one limited partnership for $1.2 million without the permission of TGP.

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 when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules 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_128856874The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a regulatory complaint (Disciplinary No. 1013038289101) filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker James Nixon (Nixon). FINRA alleged that Nixon failed to provide prior written notice to Bridge Capital Associates, Inc. (Bridge Capital), his then employing brokerage firm, before selling $600,000 of convertible promissory notes – practice referred to as “selling away” in the industry. FINRA found that Nixon provided detailed written notice to Bridge Capital only after he had already disseminated investor presentations to approximately 40 potential investors and completed sales to three accredited investor. In addition, FINRA alleged that Nixon provided investor presentations that contained exaggerated and misleading statements about the issuer of the promissory notes, by the initials BRT, and failed to include a meaningful risk disclosure.

Nixon entered the securities industry in 1987. Nixon was registered with Bridge Capital Associates since December 2007 until September 2013, when Bridge Capital discharged Nixon in connection with the conduct concerning FINRA’s allegations. Shortly after Bridge Capital terminated his registrations Nixon became registered with a different firm, Source Capital Group, Inc. out of the firm’s Westport, Connecticut office location.

FINRA found that the promissory notes were offered without a PPM and that instead the notes were offered through an investor PowerPoint presentation that Nixon prepared in conjunction with the issuer. FINRA found that the investor presentation was devoid of any cautionary language specific to the promissory notes and that the prospects for notes were presented in very optimistic terms and stated financial projections at aggressive multiples without sources or support for such representations. FINRA found these representations to violate its communications rules.

shutterstock_43547368The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action filed (Disciplinary Action No. 2014043025701) by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Carlos Benavidez Jr (Benavidez). According to the allegations, between January 2013 and January 2015, Benavidez exercised discretion in 80 customer accounts without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers while with brokerage firm Waddell & Reed.

FINRA found that beginning in or about December 2009, Benavidez and two other representatives registered with Waddell & Reed, formed RBR Group and shared a customer base for their securities business. Between January 2013 and January 2015, FINRA found that Benavidez exercised discretion in effecting hundreds of securities transactions in approximately 80 customer accounts without obtaining written authorization from his customers or Waddell & Reed’s approval.

Also according to FINRA, Benavidez tried to hide the evidence of unauthorized trading by falsifying documents. FINRA found that on or about September 9, 2014, Benavidez and another individual with the firm backdated approximately 26 customer notes that had been created in the firm’s computer program in order to falsely reflect that Benavidez or another member of the RBR Group had conversed with those customers on before the trades were effected when, in fact, it was not until six days later when Benavidez or another individual talked with the 26 customers about the trades that had been effected in their accounts.

shutterstock_145368937The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Paul Blum (Blum). According to BrokerCheck records Blum has been the subject of at least eight customer complaints three of which have been filed since 2015. The customer complaints against Blum allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, and excessive trading among other claims.

The most recent customer complaint filed in December 2015 and alleged negligence in recommending the purchase of bonds that defaulted from February 2009 until April 2014 claiming $450,000 in damages. The claim is still pending. In November 2015, another client filed a complaint alleging Blum invested in high yield bonds without consultation between May 2013 and May 2014 resulting in $133,000 in damages. The dispute is currently pending.   In a third complaint filed in November 2015, an investor claimed that Blum invested in appropriate bonds from 2005 through 2015 causing $140,000 in damages. The claim was settled.

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_191231699The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Marcious Dickerson (Dickerson). According to BrokerCheck records Dickerson has been the subject of 3 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Dickerson allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.   Many of the most recent claims involve allegations concerning non traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs).

As a background since the mid-2000s Non-Traded REITs became one of Wall Street’s hottest products. However, the failure of Non-Traded REITs to perform as well as their publicly traded counterparts has called into question if Non-Traded REITs should be sold at all and if so should there be a limit on the amount a broker can recommend. See Controversy Over Non-Traded REITs: Should These Products Be Sold to Investors? Part I

Non-Traded REITs are securities that invest in different types of real estate assets such as commercial, residential, or other specialty niche real estate markets such as strip malls, hotels, storage, and other industries. Non-traded REITs are sold only through broker-dealers, are illiquid, have no or limited secondary market and redemption options, and can only be liquidated on terms dictated by the issuer, which may be changed at any time and without prior warning.

Contact Information