Articles Tagged with RBC Capital Markets

shutterstock_156972491-300x198According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Peter Bittermann (Bittermann), currently employed by Westminster Financial Securities, Inc. (Westminster Financial) has been subject to three customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and one regulatory action.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of Bittermann’s customer complaints allege that Bittermann made unsuitable recommendations.

In July 2018 the Wisconsin Division of Securities alleged that Bittermann was delinquent on certain taxes causing his registration to be revoked.

In February 2011 RBC Capital Markets Corporation, LLC (RBC) terminated Bittermann over allegations that he sold a security without prior verbal knowledge and consent by the client.

In August 2009 a client complained that Bittermann misrepresented the risks of an investment and it was unsuitable causing $1,619,634 in damages.  The claim was settled for $750,000.

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shutterstock_95416924-300x225The investment fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are examining multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Michael Jay Sharenow (Sharenow). Sharenow’s FINRA BrokerCheck record shows several disclosures mainly pertaining to unsuitable investments.

In November 2016, a customer alleged that he or she instructed Sharenow to buy highly rated bonds but Sharenow instead bought two inappropriate securities. This dispute settled in November 2016 for the amount of $8,258.42.

A currently pending case against Sharenow was filed in October 2016 for allegedly over-concentrating a client’s portfolio during the period of 2012 to 2015 while he was employed at Wells Fargo Advisors. The clients claim that the alleged damages are greater than $810,000.00.

shutterstock_20354398-300x200The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints and a FINRA enforcement action with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Michael Hebner (Hebner). According to BrokerCheck records, Hebner has been subject to five customer complaints and one employment termination for cause. The customer complaints against Hebner allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading among other claims.

Hebner was terminated in January 2015 by Wunderlich Securities, Inc. on allegations that Hebner failed to follow firm procedures regarding the approval and retention of correspondence.  The most recent claim was filed in January 2017 alleging Hebner made unsuitable recommendations from 2010 until 2014.  The customer claims that the activity caused $429,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_145368937The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Paul Blum (Blum). According to BrokerCheck records Blum has been the subject of at least eight customer complaints three of which have been filed since 2015. The customer complaints against Blum allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, and excessive trading among other claims.

The most recent customer complaint filed in December 2015 and alleged negligence in recommending the purchase of bonds that defaulted from February 2009 until April 2014 claiming $450,000 in damages. The claim is still pending. In November 2015, another client filed a complaint alleging Blum invested in high yield bonds without consultation between May 2013 and May 2014 resulting in $133,000 in damages. The dispute is currently pending.   In a third complaint filed in November 2015, an investor claimed that Blum invested in appropriate bonds from 2005 through 2015 causing $140,000 in damages. The claim was settled.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_188874428According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Jeffrey Fladell (Fladell) has been the subject of at least 6 customer complaints, one regulatory action, and one criminal matter. Customers have filed complaints against Fladell alleging securities law violations including churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, negligence, and overconcentrated positions among other claims. Most of the claims against Fladell relate to allegations that the investor was concentrated in municipal bonds or other debt obligations that caused losses. For instance once complaint alleged damages of $1,000,000 as a result of concentration in municipal bonds that were inconsistent with the client’s objective of principal protection.

Fladell entered the securities industry in 1970. From March 1995, until October 2009, Fladell was associated with J.B. Hanauer & Co. Since October 2009, Fladell became associated with RBC Capital Markets, LLC out of the firm’s Parsippany, New Jersey office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

shutterstock_177792281The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced enforcement actions against 36 municipal bond underwriting brokerage firms for material misstatements and omissions in municipal bond offering documents. The SEC offered favorable settlement terms to municipal bond underwriters and issuers who self-reported securities law violations leading to the settlements.

The SEC alleged that between 2010 and 2014, 36 brokerage and financial firms violated federal securities laws by selling municipal bonds using offering documents that contained materially false statements or omissions about the bond issuers’ compliance with their obligation to disclosure. The firms were also alleged by the SEC to have failed to conduct adequate due diligence to identify the misstatements and omissions before offering and selling the bonds to their customers.

The municipal bond market is a $3.7 trillion market. Continuing disclosure provides municipal bond investors with information about the solvency and financial fitness of issuers on an ongoing basis. The SEC had previously identified issuers’ failure to comply with their continuing disclosure obligations as being a major challenge for investors seeking up to date information about their municipal bond holdings.

shutterstock_115971289The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have been following the collapse of a series of mutual funds managed by Cushing Asset Management. The funds involved include:

Cushing Closed-End Funds

Cushing Renaissance Fund

shutterstock_187532306The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) ordered RBC Capital Markets (RBC) to pay a $1 million fine and approximately $434,000 in restitution to customers for alleged supervisory failures resulting in sales of unsuitable reverse convertibles.

As a background, a reverse convertible is an interest-bearing note where repayment of the principal is tied to the performance of an underlying asset, such as a stock or basket of stocks. Investor risk of loss comes from changes in the value of the underlying asset. If the asset falls below a certain level at maturity or during the term of the reverse convertible the investor can suffer losses. In February 2010, FINRA issued a regulatory notice on reverse convertibles emphasizing the need for firms to perform a suitability analysis in connection with sales of reverse convertible because they are complex product.

FINRA and the SEC have both expressed alarm at the growing popularity of complex products. Complex securities include, but are not limited to equity-indexed annuities, leveraged and inverse-leveraged exchange traded funds, reverse convertibles, alternative mutual funds, exchange traded products, and structured notes. A 2012 SEC study on investor financial literacy found that retail investors, and particularly the elderly and minorities, lack basic financial literacy skills. Combining a general lack of financial literacy with an investment product landscape that increasingly focuses on ever more complex product offerings and investors are more reliant on their advisers than ever. Accordingly, retail investors do not always fully appreciate the risks involved with these.

shutterstock_174858983The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker Michael Zukowski (Zukowski) concerning allegations that Zukowski recommended unsuitable transactions in inverse and inverse-leveraged Exchange Traded Funds (Non-Traditional ETFs) in the accounts of his customers.

Zukowski first became registered with FINRA as a securities representative in 1989. Thereafter, from July 2005 to November 2010, he was registered in that same capacity through RBC Capital Markets, LLC (RBC) where he worked in the firm’s Massachusetts office. On December 23, 2010, RBC filed a Termination Notice (Form U5) stating that Zukowski was permitted to resign for “failure to meet Firm expectations.”

On August l8, 2011, RBC filed a an amended disclosure stating that an Administrative Complaint filed by the Massachusetts Securities Division (MSD) stated that: “The Massachusetts Securities Division alleged Michael Zukowski made unsuitable recommendations to brokerage and advisory clients regarding the purchase and sale of leveraged, inverse and inverse-leveraged exchange traded funds.” Thereafter, on November 12, 2012, Zukowski entered into a Consent Order with the MSD concerning the allegations of unsuitable recommendations where Zukowski consented to sanctions including a Cease and Desist and a five year bar to act as a “broker-dealer agent, investment adviser, investment adviser representative and issuer-agent” in the State of Massachusetts. Finally, on November 16, 2012, RBC filed another amended Form U5 and disclosed a written complaint by two customers indicating that the “Clients allege material omissions and unsuitable advice regarding non-traditional ETFs, in period 2/2009 to 12/2009.”

The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP recently filed a complaint against RBC Capital Markets, LLC (RBC) and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC (Morgan Stanley) accusing their registered representative Bruce Weinstein (Weinstein) of churning (excessive trading) and making unsuitable recommendations. In addition, the complaint alleged that the brokerage firms failed to properly supervise Weinstein’s activities.

The claimant alleged that he is the owner of a small business who had very little investment experience with stocks, bonds, or any other investment products.  In addition, the claimant has no other financial or investment training and is generally unsophisticated in financial matters.  The complaint also alleged that Weinstein knew that the claimant was providing the broker with approximately 100% of his liquid assets.  The claimant alleged that even though he did not tell the broker that he desired to speculate with 100% of his liquid assets, Weinstein incorrectly marked claimant’s investment objective as speculation.  Claimant alleged that the broker also incorrectly selected his investment experience in options, stocks, and bonds as being 20 years.  In fact, the claimant had no options trading experience.

According to the complaint, Weinstein immediately began executing a highly leveraged and excessive trading investment strategy in claimant’s account.  The claimant alleged that Weinstein’s trading was made without authorization or prior notice to the client.  The claimant alleged that the broker’s trading generated exorbitant commissions for himself while providing no material benefit to his client.  For example, in the May 2011, the claimant alleged that his account lost 44.8% of its value in a single month.  During this month, it was alleged that the broker excessively day traded options such as Apple causing losses of $23,228 in Apple options or nearly 21% of the claimant’s entire liquid net worth.