Articles Tagged with Investment Attorney

shutterstock_178801082-300x200Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) financial advisor Jonathan Mirer (Mirer) has subject to seven customer complaints according to BrokerCheck records.  Mirer has been employed with Ameriprise since July 2016.  According to BrokerCheck the most recent customer complaints allege unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in October 2016 and alleges unauthorized trading causing $62,000 in damages.  The complaint was settled.  In April 2016 another investor filed a complaint alleging damages as a result of unsuitable investments in energy stocks.  The complaint was settled.  The securities lawyers of Gana LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Mirer.

Our firm is currently tracking a number of brokers that severely concentrated their clients in the oil and gas and commodities sectors which has historically possessed speculative risks due to the volatile nature of commodities prices.  Before making such recommendations, financial advisors must ensure that the oil and gas and commodities related investments being recommended to their client is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company before making the recommendation.  Unfortunately, sometimes adivsors fail to conduct sufficient research or understand the risks and prospects of the company and the volatile nature of commodities.

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shutterstock_1081038-300x200According to BrokerCheck records Kevin Curry (Curry) has been sanctioned by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over allegations that the broker exercised discretion in a customer’s account without obtaining written authorization or written approval of the account as discretionary from his brokerage firm.  FINRA found that Curry and spoke to the customer and agreed upon investments but that Curry exercised time and price discretion in executing transactions on dates when he had not spoken with the customer in violation of the rules.

In addition, to the FINRA sanctions, two customers have lodged complaints against Curry alleging a number of securities law violations including that the broker made engaged in churning (excessive trading), unauthorized trading, and fraud among other claims.

In June 2014, a customer complaint was filed alleging churning, unauthorized trading, fraud, and failure to supervise claiming $400,000 in damages.  The claim was settled.

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shutterstock_188269637-300x200Morgan Stanley financial advisor Michael Fitz-Gerald (Fitz-Gerald) has subject to five customer complaints according to BrokerCheck records.  Fitz-Gerald has been employed with Morgan Stanley since November 2008.  According to BrokerCheck the most recent customer complaints allege unsuitable investments and failure to diversify the portfolio among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in February 2017 and alleges investments in energy stocks since 2014 were unsuitable and did not specify damages.  The claim is currently pending.  In February 2016 another customer filed a complaint alleging $50,000 in damages as a result of a failure to diversify the portfolio.  The claim was settled.  The securities lawyers of Gana LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Fitz-Gerald.

Our firm is currently tracking a number of brokers that severely concentrated their clients in the oil and gas and commodities sectors which has historically possessed speculative risks due to the volatile nature of commodities prices.  Before making such recommendations, financial advisors must ensure that the oil and gas and commodities related investments being recommended to their client is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company before making the recommendation.  Unfortunately, sometimes adivsors fail to conduct sufficient research or understand the risks and prospects of the company and the volatile nature of commodities.

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shutterstock_114128113-300x238According to BrokerCheck records The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has filed a complaint against Dennis Mehringer (Mehringer) over allegations that Mehringer made unsuitable recommendations that caused a customer to engage in excessively expensive short-term trading of mutual fund Class A shares. According to FINRA, Mehringer repeatedly recommended, and caused the customer to engage in, short-term purchases and sales of 84 mutual fund Class A positions in five of the customer’s accounts. FINRA alleged that in 47 of the 84 purchase transactions, the customer paid front-end sales loads ranging from four to five percent and that all but 17 of these 84 mutual fund positions were held for less than six months while 35 of them were held for less than three months. FINRA found that Mehringer received $169,735 in commissions from the transactions and that the trades were without reasonable grounds to believe that the recommendations were suitable for the customer in light of the frequency and nature of the transactions based on the customer’s investment objectives.

Class A mutual fund share investments are long-term trades that come with significant sales loads.  Frequent trading and switching between the mutual funds and mutual fund families is unsuitable for any customer.

Mehringer is currently associated with Western International Securities, Inc. (Western International) and has been subject to nine customer complaints alleging unsuitable investments, overconcentration, excessive commission charges among other claims.  The securities lawyers of Gana LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Mehringer.

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shutterstock_103476707Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against financial advisor Victor Lambert (Lambert) currently not registered with any firm, alleging unsuitable investments among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Lambert has been subject to seven customer complaints and two judgement/liens.

In January 2016 Lambert disclosed a tax lien of $46,706.  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.

In October 2015 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Lambert purchased two equities that were inappropriate for the client causing damages.  The claim was resolved for $85,000.

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shutterstock_94127350The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker James Noto (Noto). According to BrokerCheck records Noto is subject to at least one regulatory sanction and seven customer complaints. The customer complaints against Noto allege securities law violations that claim unsuitable investments and lack of due diligence among other claims.  Many of the more recent claims involve the sale of Variable Annuity products.

The most recent complaint was filed in March 2016, and alleged that James Noto, while employed at Summit Brokerage Services (Summit), recommended an unsuitable investment in a variable annuity.  In 2015, another customer filed a complaint alleging that Noto made unsuitable investment recommendations.

Variable annuities are complex financial and insurance products.  In fact, recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing.  Essentially, a variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you.  The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen.  The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

However, the benefits of variable annuities are often outweighed by the terms of the contract that include exorbitant expenses such as surrender charges, mortality and expense charges, management fees, market-related risks, and rider costs.

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shutterstock_19498822In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, it was reported that UBS Group AG sold $1.5 billion of contingent convertible (CoCo) bonds.  According to the article, UBS received about $8 billion of orders for the sale.  These bonds will pay an interest rate of 6.875% and last summer UBS sold $1.6 billion of CoCos at the same rate.  The UBS deal was the first CoCo sale since mid-January due to price drops in February due to worries that Deutsche Bank AG might have missed an interest payment on one of its CoCo bonds.

What exactly are CoCo’s and why should investors be concerned.  CoCos have been a growing type of debt issued by mostly European issuers.  European lenders have sold around 100 billion in CoCos since 2012.

CoCos bear many of the same traits as hybrid preferred securities that were popular right up to the financial crisis.  Like hybrid preferred stock, CoCo’s act as hybrid debt/equity investments.  When times are good they behave like debt providing no growth to investors and only interest payments.  When times get rough these investments behave like equity because investors are unlikely to see returns in the event of bankruptcy.  As a result these investments tend to crash in lock step with a company’s equity.

CoCos are one way that some banks are issuing investments in order to acquire extra capital.  Because of their hybrid structure CoCos can be counted toward a bank’s capital requirements mandated by regulators without raising share capital.  From a bank’s standpoint CoCos are attractive because the cost of capital on the firm’s balance sheet is lower than it is for a share capital increase.  CoCo bonds also have a capital trigger where if the trigger is reached, the CoCo is automatically converted into equity or the nominal value is written off.  The trigger on CoCos can also be activated by a regulatory authority if the bank’s existence threatened.

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shutterstock_140321293The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaint filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Nathaniel Clay (Clay).  According to BrokerCheck records Clay has been subject to at least six customer complaint and one employment termination for cause.  The customer complaints against Clay allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, churning, excessive trading, and unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in December 2015 alleging $513,218 in damage stemming from unauthorized trading, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentations.  The complaint is still pending.

Clay’s former brokerage firm National Securities Corporation (National Securities) was recently featured in a study ranking brokerage firms by incidents of misconduct.  According to a study conducted by the Securities Litigation and Consulting Group entitled “How Widespread and Predictable is Stock Broker Misconduct?” the incidents of investor harm at National Securities is extraordinarily high.  The study ranked National Securities as the third worst brokerage firm finding that brokers at the firm had over a 31% misconduct rate.  The study stated that investors should stay away from National Securities “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.”

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shutterstock_183011084The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Edward Barger (Barger).  According to BrokerCheck records Barger has been subject to at least four customer complaints, two regulatory action, and one criminal matter.  The customer complaints against Barger allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments among other claims.

In April 2016, a customer complained that Barger made unsuitable investments in his account from August 2011 until December 2015.  In May 2015, another customer alleged that Barger made unsuitable investments in the account from February 2011 until December 2014 causing damages of $300,000.

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.

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shutterstock_176284139The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Jesse Griffin (Griffin). According to BrokerCheck records Griffin has been the subject of at least six customer complaints three of which have been filed since 2014. The customer complaints against Griffin allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims.

The most recent customer complaint filed in June 2015 alleged unsuitable investments from November 2006 through September 2008. 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.

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