Advisor Megurditch Patatian (Patatian), formerly employed by brokerage firm Western International Securities, Inc. (Western International) has been subject to at least 13 disclosures of which nine are customer complaints, three are employment terminations for cause, and one is a regulatory action. According to a BrokerCheck report several of the customer complaints concern alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.
In February 2021 FINRA filed a complaint against Patatian alleing that he made 81 recommendations to 59 customers to purchase non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs). According to FINRA, all of the recommendations were unsuitable because he lacked a reasonable basis to recommend the product to any investor. FINRA found that Patatian did not understand the basic features and risks associated with the non-traded REITs and failed to conduct reasonable diligence to understand the product. As part of the misconduct, FINRA alleges that Patatian caused customers to incur taxes and surrender fees by recommended that the customers surrender existing variable annuity policies when he failed to understand the adverse financial consequences of the surrenders. In one instance, FINRA claims that Patatian impersonated a customer in a telephone call with an insurance company to obtain the contract value and surrender fee for the variable annuity. Finally, in order to qualify investors for the REITs, FINRA claims that Patatian recorded inaccurate customer information on his member firm’s customer account and disclosure forms, including by overstating customers’ net worth and exaggerating customers’ years of investment experience. According to FINRA, Patatian inflated the customer’s net worth on the firm’s REIT paperwork in order to evade concentration limits on REIT investments.