Articles Tagged with MML Investors Services

shutterstock_174922268-300x215According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Brian Travers (Travers), operating under the d/b/a Travers and Associates, Inc., in December 2017, was barred from the financial industry by FINRA concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions.  According to FINRA Travers consented to the sanction and bar due to the fact that he refused to appear and provide FINRA with testimony in connection with their investigation into potential undisclosed outside business activities and private securities transactions.  At this time it is unclear the extent and nature of the outside business activities or private securities transactions that occurred.

Travers employer, MML Investors Services, LLC (MML) discharged Travers in March 2017 alleging that Travers engaged in undisclosed outside business activities.  The only activity listed on Travers’ public records is his insurance business. FINRA’s allegations concern private securities transactions– a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – is a serious violation of the securities laws.

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shutterstock_145368937-300x225The securities and investment fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory complaint filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Stanley Clayton Niekras (Niekras). The FINRA regulatory action alleges that Niekras recommended unsuitable variable annuity exchanges in three customers’ accounts. FINRA found that Niekras effected the annuity exchanges to benefit himself at the customers’ expense. Niekras allegedly misrepresented himself to a couple in their 90s claiming $70,000 of fees due for financial planning services. According to BrokerCheck records, Niekras has been subject to eight customer complaints and one regulatory action among other claims.

The FINRA complaint alleges that Niekras made fraudulent misrepresentations to an elderly couple in their 90s to collect more than $70,000 in estate and financial planning fees while associated with the brokerage firm MML Investors Services, LLC. FINRA alleges that Niekras didn’t have an investment advisory or financial planning agreement with the elderly couple, but he billed them for hundreds of hours of time that he supposedly spent working on their “financial future”, work that he claimed to have done over four years knowing he wasn’t entitled to the “estate planning” or “financial planning” fees he charged. In February 2013, he recommended that the children buy a particular variable annuity with the gifted assets, anticipating collecting about $75,000 in commissions from the sales. The claim is currently pending.

The most recent complaint was filed in December 2010 alleging unsuitable variable annuity recommendations in clients account from January 1995 through March 2005 causing over $5,000 in damages. The claim settled for $247,500.00.

shutterstock_102757574According to the records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Wade Lawrence (Lawrence) has been suspended following the broker’s failure to comply with an arbitration award or settlement and by failing to comply with the regulator’s request for information concerning compliance. In addition, FINRA permanently barred Lawrence for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that he misappropriated funds from customers.

Lawrence first became registered with FINRA in 2002 with MML Investors Services, LLC. Thereafter, from June 2008 through July 2011, Lawrence was registered with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (Oppenheimer) Finally from August 4, 2011, until December 2013, Lawrence was registered with Southwest Securities, Inc. (Southwest). On December 12, 2013, Southwest filed a Form U5 that terminated Lawrence’s registration.

In addition to the FINRA regulatory actions Lawrence has been the subject of at least nine customer disputes. These statistics are troubling because multiple customer complaints on a broker’s record are rare. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. FINRA’s disclosure records do not just cover customer complaints but also include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters. The number of brokers with multiple customer complaints is far smaller.

The complaints against Lawrence allege unauthorized trading in options, promises to cover investment losses, unsuitable investments in closed-end notes, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty. Some of the unsuitable investments appear to be in the Vixx volatility index (VXX). Trading in the Vixx is almost always unsuitable because the costs of the index over time causes it to fail to accurately track its benchmark volatility index. Thus, holding Vixx will almost always cause investment losses. Some of the claims also allege that personal loans were made to the broker that were never paid back.

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shutterstock_184430645The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned MML Investors Services, LLC (MML Investors a/k/a MassMutual Life Insurance Company) broker Monte Miron (Miron) concerning allegations that Miron made unauthorized trades in client accounts and that the broker failed to disclose certain tax liens on his Form U4 in a timely manner.

Miron first became registered with member firm Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. in September 1982. Miron has been registered with 11 firms between October 1998 and August 2012. From 2005 to January 2008, Miron was associated with MetLife Securities Inc. From December 2007 through September 2012, Miron was a representative with AXA Advisors, LLC.

According to Miron’s brokerage disclosures the broker has had three customer complaints filed against him. The complaints involve allegations of account manipulation, excessive trading, and a misrepresentation concerning a variable annuity.

Unauthorized trading occurs when a advisor transacts in securities without the prior consent or authority from the investor. Unless a customer has given the broker written authority to have discretion to make trades in the account, the broker must first discuss all trades with the investor.  NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b) and 2020 prohibit discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. Unauthorized trading also violates just and equitable principles of trade and constitutes violations of federal anti-fraud statutes.  Unauthorized trading is fraudulent in nature because it is an omission of material information to the investor.

Between September 2012, and January 2013, FINRA alleged that Miron made 237 unauthorized trades in the accounts two customers. FINRA found that Miron did not obtain written authorization to make these trades prior to executing them and he was not allowed to have control over client accounts. By making these unauthorized trades, FINRA found that Miron violated FINRA Rule 2010.

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Darrell G. Frazier (Frazier) was recently barred from the securities industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over allegations that Frazier made fraudulent statements in the sales of variable annuities.  Frazier is also alleged to have made unsuitable variable annuity sale recommendations to customers.

Frazier first became registered with a FINRA member firm in March 1988.  Frazier was registered with Park Avenue Securities LLC from July 2002 through June 2010.  From August 2010 through May 2011, Frazier was associated with MML Investors Services, LLC.

FINRA alleged that from 2004 to at least 2009, Frazier made materially false and misleading statements in connection with recommending customers purchase variable annuity products issued by Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc.  A variable annuity is a contract where an insurance company agrees to make periodic payments to an investor either immediately or at some future date.  The purchase of a variable annuity contract either involves a single purchase payment or a series of purchase payments.

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