Articles Tagged with MetLife Securities

shutterstock_71240-300x183The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Paris Lewis (Lewis) has been accused by his former employer of borrowing funds from a client among other allegations.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Lewis has been terminated by his two prior employers concerning his outside business activities.  According to BrokerCheck records, Lewis was formerly registered with FINRA member firm NYLife Securities LLC (NYLife Securities) and MetLife Securities Inc. (MetLife).  If you have been a victim of Lewis alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In December 2019 NYLife Securities terminated Mr. Lewis after alleging that he was terminated after he violated company policy by borrowing money from a customer. The company became aware of this matter when the company received a verbal customer complaint.

In February 2015 Metlife terminated Mr. Lewis after alleging that he did not follow firm policy regarding outside business activities.

Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling securities sales through OBAs.  The sale of unapproved investment products – is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.  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.  Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.

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shutterstock_170949320-300x199Gana Weinstein LLP’s investment fraud attorneys are looking into multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Rodger James Burskey (Burskey) that led to a regulatory action by FINRA. According to Burskey’s FINRA BrokerCheck records, there are several disclosures on his record pertaining to unauthorized, unsuitable, and excessive trading. Burskey has dealt with an employment separation and was barred by FINRA from the securities industry. In December 2016, Burskey was barred by FINRA from having any registration capacities in the securities industry. He consented to the sanctions and findings of FINRA and refused to appear on the record regarding allegations of making unsuitable recommendations and engage in discretionary trading.

Burskey entered the securities industry in 1985 and was last employed at Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. until November 2015. He was previously registered at:

• US Allianz Securities, Inc. (February 1999 – November 2006)

shutterstock_26813263-300x199The securities and investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker James Paul Kolf (Kolf). According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records for Kolf, there are at least 6 disclosures on Kolf’s record including customer complaints and regulatory actions resulting in being barred from FINRA. The customer complaints against Kolf allege securities law violations that claim fraud, unsuitable investments, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Kolf was barred permanently from FINRA on September 2016. FIRNA ruled that he violated Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and FINRA Rules 2020 and 2010 by selling at least $588,000 worth of misrepresented securities to his clients. The securities resulted in being falsified by Kolf and the clients’ funds were used to fund his personal business expenses. He created false statements for his clients to show their interests in these investments that they were not aware were fake.

The most current customer complaint pending against Kolf was from November 2016, alleging Kolf used client funds for personal expenses. This claim occurring during Kolf’s employment at MSI Financial Services, Inc. The customer alleged losses of $29,000.00. A second customer complaint was submitted in December 2016 regarding Kolf’s actions while employed at MSI Financial Services, Inc. The customer alleged that Kolf made inappropriate recommendations to purchase a variable life insurance policy and alleged damages of $54,701.00. This complaint is still pending. The third customer complaint was lodged in December 2016 alleging that Kolf misrepresented the benefits of transferring money from one firm into variable annuities. This allegation occurred in February 2014 when Kolf was with MSI Financial Services, Inc. and is still pending.

shutterstock_138129767The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought and enforcement action against broker Jeffrey Mohlman (Mohlman) (FINRA No. 2015044734401) resulting in a bar from the securities industry alleging that Mohlman failed to provide FINRA staff with information and documents requested. The failure to provide those documents and information to FINRA resulted in an automatic bar from the industry. FINRA’s document requests related to the regulators investigation into claims the Mohlman engaged in unapproved and undisclosed private securities transactions – also referred to in the industry as “selling away.”

FINRA’s investigation appears to stem from Mohlman’s termination from Questar Capital Corporation (Questar Capital) in February 2015. At that time Questar Capital filed a Form U5 termination notice with FINRA stating in part that the firm permitted Mohlman to resign under circumstances where there was allegations that Mohlman was under internal review for failure to follow firm policies and procedures regarding participation in private securities transactions. It is unclear the nature of the outside business activities from publicly available information at this time. However, Mohlman’s brokercheck disclosures reveal several outside business activities including being a co-owner of NexGen Vapors – a vapor needs business – and Ann Arbor Annuity Exchange where Mohlman discloses that he works as an insurance agent.

Mohlman entered the securities industry in 2001. From October 2002 until March 2009, Mohlman was associated with MetLife Securities Inc. Thereafter, from June 2009 until May 2011, Mohlman was associated as a registered representative with Investacorp, Inc. Finally, from June 2012 until March 2015, Mohlman was associated with Questar Capital.

shutterstock_152149322The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) barred former Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) broker Bruce Sabourin (Sabourin) after the broker failed to respond to a letter from the regulator requesting information. While the BrokerCheck records kept by FINRA do not disclose the nature of the regulatory inquiry, in May 2014, Sabourin was terminated by Cetera for cause stating that the broker was terminated for excessive trading in client accounts and potential exercise of discretionary authority without written authorization.

According to the BrokerCheck records Sabourin has been the subject of at least four customer complaints, one employment separation, one regulatory action, and one criminal matter. The customer complaints against Sabourin allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

Sabourin entered the securities industry in 1994. From August 2001, until September 2009, Sabourin was associated with Investors Capital Corp. Thereafter, from September 2009, until February 2011, Sabourin was registered as a broker with MetLife Securities Inc. Thereafter, Sabourin was associated with Sterne Agee Financial Services, Inc. from February 2011, until December 2012. Finally, Sabourin was associated with Cetera from November 2012, until May 2014.

shutterstock_143179897According to news sources Bryan Anderson (Anderson) has been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and securities fraud, according to the FBI and the Alabama Securities Commission  Anderson agreed to plead guilty to the charges under a plea agreement. Under the plea agreement Anderson will pay restitution of about $3.1 million to the victims of his Ponzi scheme.

According to the allegations, between January 2009 and January 2014, Anderson’s false investment promises caused 18 individuals to deliver more than $8.4 million to Anderson, which he deposited into an account held at BancorpSouth. When the scheme collapsed in May 2014, about 12 investors lost about $3.1 million.

It is alleged that Anderson solicited investors to invest in stock options that he said employed various trading strategies. However, the stock options he described were not registered securities. Anderson also offered investments in a company he owned called 360 Properties. Beginning in or about 2009, Anderson falsely represented to investors in 360 Properties that their returns would come from leased property income, when in fact there were no leased properties.

shutterstock_20354401The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently barred broker Derek Weaver (Weaver) alleging that Weaver failed to provide documents and information to FINRA in response to demands made to investigate the broker’s activities. On December 1, 2014, FINRA sent Weaver a request for documents concerning allegations that he participated in a Ponzi scheme. The details concerning the exact nature of the alleged Ponzi scheme and Weaver’s role are not yet fully known.

The allegations against Weaver are consistent with a potential “selling away” securities violation. 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. Under the FINRA rules, a brokerage firm owes a duty to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering such products. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to establish and maintain written supervisory procedures and implement such policies in order to monitor the activities of each registered representative. Selling away often occurs in environments where the brokerage firms either fails to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fails to actually implement that system and meet supervisory requirements.

In selling away cases, investors are unaware that the advisor’s investments are either not registered or not real. Typically investors will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized or the broker simply shuts down shop and stops returning client calls.

shutterstock_115937266The attorneys of the law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a series of recently filed complaints against broker John Quintero (Quintero) who is currently a registered representative with Transamerica Financial Advisors.  In January 2014, an investor filed a complaint alleging that Quintero misrepresented the premiums paid on a variable universal life insurance policy (VUL). Specifically, the customer claimed that Quintero stated that the premiums paid would be a tax differed investments and that further the sub-account investments were unsuitable.

VULs are complex insurance and investment products that investors must fully understand prior to investing. One feature of a VUL policy is that the investor can allocate a portion of his premium payments to a separate sub-account to invest and grow through mostly mutual fund investments. Monthly charges are assessed for the life insurance policy including a cost of insurance charge and administrative fees all of which are deducted from the policy’s cash value. The investor can suffer losses are receive gains based upon the performance of the sub-account investments. However, the VUL policy can terminate or lapses if at any time the net cash surrender value is insufficient to pay the monthly cost deductions. Upon termination of the policy, the remaining cash value becomes worthless.

Given the costs and premiums involved in purchasing VULs, brokers must be careful to ensure that the recommendation to invest in VULs is suitable for the client. In some cases, investors do not realize the huge expense of these policies and have no way to continue to cover the premiums. When this happens the policy could lapse over time.

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.

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