Articles Tagged with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments

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_93851422The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory action brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Christopher Burtraw (Burtraw) working out of Lakewood, Colorado alleging that the broker borrowed client funds.  The providing of loans 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”.  According to the FINRA regulatory action (FINRA No. 20150472061-01) Burtraw consented sanctions in the form of a permanent bar because he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course their investigation into allegations that he borrowed funds from multiple customers.

At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Burtraw’s outside business activities and private securities transactions.  However, according to Burtraw’s public records his outside business activities includes Pacific Life Prestige Wealth Management Group.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

Burtraw entered the securities industry in 2003.  From September 2004 until November 2009, Burtraw was associated with LPL Financial Corporation.  From November 2009 until November 2014, Burtraw was associated with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments.  Finally, from November 2014 until October 2015, Burtraw was associated with J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C. (JP Turner).

shutterstock_20354398The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a complaint filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Gopi Krishna Vungarala (Vungarala) and his brokerage firm Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments (Purshe Kaplan). FINRA alleged that from at least June 2011 through January 2015, Vungarala regularly lied to his customer who is a Native American tribe regarding commissions paid to the broker and firm on non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs) and business development companies (BDCs).

Vungarala served the tribe as both a financial advisor and was employed by the tribe as its Treasury Investment Manager and participated in decisions regarding the tribe’s investments. According to FINRA, Vungarala knew that the tribe prohibited employees such as Vungarala from engaging in business activities that could constitute a conflict of interest with the tribe. In order to induce the tribe to make purchases in Non-Traded REITs and BDCs in light of the prohibition against conflicts of interests Vungarala falsely represented to the tribe that he would not receive any commissions on the purchases. Despite the prohibition and the representations, FINRA alleged that Vungarala fraudulently induced the tribe to invest $190 million of dollars in Non-Traded REITs and BDCs without revealing that he and his firm received commissions on the sales at a typical rate of 7% generating $11.4 million in commissions for Purshe Kaplan of which $9.6 million was paid to Vungarala.

Worse still, FINRA alleged that the tribe was eligible to receive volume discounts on the products purchased but instead paid full commission. FINRA alleged that Purshe Kaplan’s supervisory failures led to the volume discounts not being applied. FINRA alleged that the tribe failed to receive more than $3.3 million in volume discounts and that these funds funds were instead paid to Purshe Kaplan and Vungarala in the form of commissions.