The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Allan Montalbano (Montalbano). According to BrokerCheck records Montalbano has been the subject of at least four customer complaints and one bankruptcy filing. The customer complaints against Montalbano allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.
In November 2015, Montalbano disclosed that he entered bankruptcy. The most recent customer complaint filed in June 2015 and alleged unsuitable recommendations and excessive trading claiming $250,000 in damages. The claim is still pending. In May 2013, another client filed a complaint alleging Montalbano failed to follow instructions. The claim closed.
When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.