Articles Tagged with Merrill Lynch

shutterstock_184429547-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Jeffrey Smith (Smith), currently employed by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Smith) has been subject to at least eight customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Smith’s customer complaints allege that Smith recommended unsuitable securities recommendations in equity securities among other allegations of misconduct in the handling of customer accounts.

In April 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Smith violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Smith made unsuitable investments and failed to follow instructions.  The claim is currently pending.

In February 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Smith violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Smith made unsuitable investments.  The claim is currently pending.

In October 2016 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Smith violated the securities laws by, among other things, that Smith made unsuitable recommendations from March 2015 until October 2016 causing damages.  The claim settled for $50,000.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_175137287-300x200According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Stan Leavitt (Leavitt), currently employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) has been subject to at least two customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of Leavitt’s customer complaints allege that Leavitt made unsuitable recommendations and made misrepresentations.

In October 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Leavitt violated the securities laws including misrepresentations and unsuitable investments from April 2015 until June 2017 in options causing $550,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

In July 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Leavitt violated the securities laws including misrepresentations from December 2015 until June 2017 in a variable annuity product causing $31,015 in damages.  The claim settled.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_143685652-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Christopher Hellman (Hellman), formerly associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) in December 2018, was sanctioned and barred from the securities industry by FINRA over accusations of potentially selling unapproved products.

In December 2018 FINRA alleged that Hellman consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he failed to provide FINRA with requested documents and information during its investigation.  FINRA found that Merrill Lynch terminated Hellman’s registration for conduct including failure to adhere to firm standards regarding selling away and failure to fully disclose participation in outside business activities.

The providing of loans, misappropriating funds through false pretenses, or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.

At this time it is unclear the nature and scope of Hellman’s activities.  Hellman’s disclosures do not include any outside business activities (OBAs) disclosures.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_120115444-300x198According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Paul Muran (Muran), currently employed by Thurston Spinger Financial (Thurston Spinger) has been subject to four customer complaints during his career.  In addition, Muran has been twice terminated for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the complaints against Muran concern allegations of unsuitable investments and allegations of overconcentration involving equities, oil and gas, life settlement contracts, and structured products.

In March 2011, Muran was terminated by Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner and Smith, Inc. (Merrill Lynch) over allegations that he participated in an outside investment without the firm’s approval.  Thereafter, in October 2017 Muran was then terminated by UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS) on similar charges that Muran facilitated client purchases of life-settlement products not listed on firm platform, failing to escalate a client complaint, responding to the complaint without managerial approval, and failing to disclose a client’s subsequent investment in an outside passive investment.

In November 2018 a customer complained that Muran recommended investments that violated the securities laws by recommending a life settlement contract that was misrepresented and unsuitable. The client further alleges unauthorized trading of structured products and that the client had no idea she was borrowing from her loan account.  The customer alleges an unknown amount of damages but the claim is currently settled for $250,000.

In May 2018 a customer complained that Muran recommended investments that violated the securities laws including unsuitable investments, unauthorized credit line agreement, unauthorized trades, uninvested funds, and lost market opportunity. The customer claimed $183,000 in damages and is currently pending.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_94632238-300x214According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former advisor Christopher Hibbard (Hibbard), formerly associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) in Louisville, Kentucky was terminated for cause by Merrill Lynch in January 2018 after the firm made allegations that Hibbard engaged in conduct including unauthorized transactions and theft.  Thereafter, in February 2018 Hibbard was barred by FINRA for failing to respond to the regulatory requests for information.  In April 2018 it was disclosed that an investigation of Hibbards activities had been opened by the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Kentucky.  The investigation involves the unauthorized use of client funds by Hibbard during his employment with Merrill Lynch.  In addition, eight customers have brought complaints against Hibbard alleging misappropriation of funds.

The allegations concerning conversion are often accompanied by claims of engaging in outside business activtiies and private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_176283941-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merill Lynch) broker Charles Kenahan (Kenahan). According to BrokerCheck Records held by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Kenahan has been subject to four customer disputes, three of which are still pending. The majority of these disputes concern unsuitable investment recommendations and excessive trading of the customer account.

In May 2018, a customer alleged that from 2012 to 2017, Kenahan excessively traded the funds in the customer account and also unsuitably recommended investments to the customer. The customer has requested $700,000 in damages. This dispute is currently still pending.

In March 2018, a customer alleged that from February 2012 to December 2017, Kenahan excessively traded customer funds, misrepresented the nature of the investments, and unsuitably recommended the investments to the customer. This dispute is currently still pending.

In February 2018, a customer alleged that from December 2007 to February 2018, Kenahan had placed the customer into unsuitable investments and excessively traded the customer’s funds in the account. This dispute is currently still pending.

In August 2009, a customer alleged that from December 2007 to February 2018, Kenahan recommended investments that were unsuitable to the customer and excessively traded the account. The customer requested $148,353 in damages.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_155271245-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Frank Zito (Zito), formerly associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) in Ridgeland, Mississippi and currently registered with Coker & Palmer was terminated concerning allegations that Zito engaged in conduct such as failure to adhere to firm standards regarding selling away and failure to fully disclose participation in an outside business activity.  A month earlier in May 2018 a customer filed a complaint against Zito alleging that the broker made unsuitable recommendations and sold unapproved products from 2013 through January 2018.  The complaint is currently pending and alleges $571,000 in damages.

At this time, the claims against Zito are unclear as to the exact nature and extent of the unapproved product sale activity.  Zito has outside business disclosures including timber purchasing from timber management firm.

It is possible that this activity is related to the alleged Ponzi Scheme orchestrated by Arthur Adams (Adams) and Madison Timber Properties LLC (Madison Timber) by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).   The complaint against Adams and Madison Timber was unsealed on May 1, 2018 Mississippi federal court and revealed the SEC’s fraud charges against the Mississippi company and its principal who has been accused of stealing from at least 150 investors in a $85 million Ponzi scheme.  Adams and Madison Timber agreed to a permanent injunction, an asset freeze, and expedited discovery.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_154554782-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating Morgan Stanley broker James Duffy (Duffy). According to BrokerCheck Records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Duffy has been subject to five customer disputes, one of which is still pending. The majority of these disputes concern the unsuitable recommendation of Puerto Rico Municipal Bonds.

Most recently, In July 2018, a customer alleged that from 2006 to 2017, Duffy was unsuitably recommending Puerto Rico municipal bonds to the customer. This dispute is currently still pending.

In December 2016, a customer alleged that from 2008 to 2016, Duffy was recommending unsuitable investments. The client requested $250,000 in damages.

In September 2012, a customer alleged that from November 2008 to May 2012, Duffy misrepresented the stability of principals in investment recommendations that were unsuitable to the customer’s investment objectives. The case was settled at $8,000.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_145368937-300x225According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Joseph Yanofsky (Yanofsky), currently associated with First Financial Equity Corporation (First Financial), has been subject to eight customer complaints, one regulatory action, and one employment separation for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Yanofsky has been accused by customers of unauthorized trading, unsuitable trading, and misrepresentations among other claims.

In 2015 Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) terminated Yanofsky alleging that the broker exercised discretion in discretionary accounts and provided inaccurate responses to the firm.  Thereafter, FINRA sanctioned Yanofsky in September 2017 findings that he exercised discretion in customer accounts without written authorization to do so. The findings stated that Yanofsky’s exercise of discretion occurred in connection with certain of his member firm’s syndicate equity offerings.  FINRA found that Yanofsky’s customers verbally expressed their general desire and authorization to participate syndicate offerings however their verbal authorization to participate in every syndicate offering was never reduce to writing.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_103665437-300x300According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Charles Kenahan (Kenahan), currently employed by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) has been subject to four customer complaints.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of a Kenahan’s customer complaints allege that Kenahan made unsuitable recommendations or engaged in excessive trading – sometimes referred to as churning.

In May 2018 a customer alleged excessive trading and unsuitable investment recommendations from 2012 until 2017. The claim alleged $700,000 in damages and is currently pending.

In March 2018 a customer alleged unsuitable investment recommendations, excessive trading and misrepresentation from February 2012 until December 2017.  The claim is currently pending.