Articles Tagged with FSC Securities Corporation


Recently, Sandeep Varma’s (Varma) attorney reached out to our firm to inform us that our post on Varma was inaccurate.  The post detailed that Varma had been subject to five customer and that the majority of these complaints involved the recommendation of unsuitable and misrepresented variable investments including CRTs and life insurance policies.

The post also detailed how in January 2018, FINRA found that Varma misrepresented a real-estate planning strategy involving Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) to 70 potential customers by providing misleading claims about the nature of deferred capital gains taxes, risks, and rewards that are involved in CRTs. In addition, Varma recommended that the sale of appreciated assets should be invested into variable annuities and into premiums for an insurance policy. While recommending these investments, Varma failed to disclose that the premium payments for the life insurance policy were dependent on performance of investments in the CRT and that this yielded risk for lapse in the insurance policy. FINRA found that Varma’s positive projection of the performance of investments in the CRT and life insurance policy was exaggerated in a promissory manner because it didn’t disclose the reasonable possibility of negative investment performance. In February 2018, Varma was suspended for 10 days and fined $15,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, Varma consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings.

Varma’s attorney has brought it to our attention that Varma has succeeded in using FINRA’s flawed expungement process system to remove two complaints from his BrokerCheck record that resulted in settlements totaling $1.2 million.  As shown in Varma’s expungement “award”, Varma sued his own employer, LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial) for damages of $1.00 due to the placement on his record of two customer complaints.  The “hearing” that took place appears to have been perfunctory at best.  The hearing concerning two customer complaints took only one hearing session to complete.  Usually there are two hearing sessions a day – meaning in this case two cases were probably decided in time for the arbitrator to catch lunch.  The total cost to Varma by FINRA to expunge two customer complaints from his record was $100 – excluding any fees he privately paid his counsel.

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shutterstock_140186524-300x298The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Kenneth Savino (Savino).

According to BrokerCheck records, Savino allegedly purchased shares of a security for $100,000 without providing prior notice to his member firm and Savino inaccurately indicated on an annual compliance questionnaire that he had not participated in any private securities transactions. Savino was suspended for 15 days and fined $5,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, Savino consented to the sanctions and the entry of findings.

Savino was discharged from LPL Financial in October 2015 for allegedly entering into a loan transaction with another company, receiving shares of the company in return, with no pre-approval by the firm. Additionally, Savino allegedly made private securities transaction that he did not have pre-approved by the firm. Savino also allegedly introduced a client to a potential outside investment opportunity that was not approved by the firm.

shutterstock_183554579-300x200The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against current FSC Securities Corporation (FSC Securities) broker Brian Presley (Presley). According to BrokerCheck records, Presley has spent 34 years in the securities industry and is currently located in Punta Gorda, Florida operating under the d/b/a The Presley Advisory.  Over his career, Presley has been the subject of at least eight customer complaints and two regulatory actions.

The most recent complaint was filed in August 2015 alleging that Presley breached his duties to his clients in illiquid investments including oil and gas and non-traded REIT’s.  The customer alleged $117,000 in damages.  The claim has been settled.  Many of Presley’s other customer complaints similarly allege damages resulting from the sale of alternative investment products.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including oil and gas partnerships, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

shutterstock_183010823The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Stanley Keyes (Keyes). According to BrokerCheck records Keyes is subject to 5 customer complaints, 1 regulatory action, and 2 employment separations. The customer complaints against Keyes allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.

The most recent regulatory action was filed by FINRA in November 2010 and alleged that Keyes borrowed a total of $214,000 from customers and used that money to meet personal financial obligations. FINRA alleged that Keyes failed to disclose the existence of these loans to his firm. FINRA fined Keyes $5,000 and suspended the broker for three months. Prior to that FSC Securities Corporation terminated Keyes alleging that the broker had borrowed money from firm customers in violation of the firm’s policies.

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_135103109According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Barry Hartman (Hartman) was terminated by the firm due to alleged violation of firm policies including the participation in undisclosed outside business activities and private securities transactions, known as “selling away” in the industry.

Hartman was registered with brokerage firm FSC Securities Corporation (FSC) from 2002 until March 2015, when the broker was terminated. During this time Hartman conducted his securities business through an entity called Rocky Mountain Financial, LLC. While the size and scope of Hartman’s activities is still under investigation, investors have come forward claiming that Hartman sold them promissory notes and warrants in a company called Invizeon Corporation.

Invizeon is a Montana based software business that develops software platforms and solutions for government and enterprise organizations. The software includes platforms to manage information from sensing and detection technologies. In recent years, Invizeon has acquired several businesses including Seafaring Security Services, Slipstream Resources, and Gaga Africa. Invizeon continues to raise capital through private placement regulation D offerings. Moreover, on those filings Hartman has been listed as an owner of Invizeon.

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.

shutterstock_172399811The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred FSC Securities Corporation (FSC Securities) broker Timothy Moran (Moran) concerning allegations that the broker: (1) engaged in private securities transactions without providing his employer with prior written notice; (2) failed to respond to FINRA requests for information; (3) provided false information to FINRA; and (4) failed to disclose a tax lien on a Form U4. Moran was ordered to disgorge $200,000, in ill-gotten gains in addition to the bar.

Moran was first became employed in the securities industry in February 1993. From June 2008, through April 2010, Moran was associated with Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. Thereafter, from May 2010, until December 2011, Moran was registered through his association with FSC Securities. On December 9, 2011, FSC Securities filed a Uniform Termination Notice (Form U5) terminating Moran’s registration. FSC filed an amended Form U5 filing in which the firm disclosed that it had terminated Moran’s employment while he was under internal review for fraud or wrongful taking of property, or violating investment-related statutes, regulations, rules or industry standards of conduct. FSC Securities also reported that Moran had referred clients to an unapproved investment fund.

FINRA alleged that Moran engaged in private securities transactions without providing FSC Securities with written notice in violation of NASD Conduct Rule 3040 and FINRA Conduct Rule 2010. During 2010, FINRA found that Moran subleased office space to Thomas Hampton. Hampton allegedly used the space to operate a private hedge fund, Hampton Capital Management (HCM). Moran was also found to have loaned Hampton money to help start HCM. HCM purportedly bought and sold exchange traded funds based on a proprietary trading strategy implemented by a computer program.

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