Articles Tagged with securities fraud lawyer

shutterstock_112866430-300x199The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Timothy Johnson (Johnson) was discharged by his employer after being accused of diverting client funds.  According to BrokerCheck records, Johnson is formerly registered with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm MML Investors Services, LLC (MML).  In addition, Johnson disclosed one regulatory complaint. If you have been a victim of Johnson’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In July 2019 MML discharged Johnson after alleging that he was terminated in connection with an investigation into the registered representative’s diversion of customer funds for his own use.

In September 2019 FINRA filed a regulatory action alleging that Johnson consented to the sanction and findings that he failed to provide documents and information requested by FINRA during the course of an investigation into the allegations made concerning his termination.  FINRA’s suspension will automatically become a bar if Johnson fails to respond.

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shutterstock_177577832-300x300According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Joseph Peggs (Peggs), currently employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) has been subject to one employment termination for cause, one regulatory action, and eight customer disputes during his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaints against Peggs concerns allegations over several different investment products including equities, options, and variable annuity sales practices.

In June 2019 a customer complained that Peggs violated the securities laws by alleging that Peggs and several other defendants failed to carry out the decedent’s intentions regarding beneficiary designations for two annuities. The decedent’s ex-wife contends that the proceeds of the annuities should have been distributed in such a way that the proceeds could fund continuing payments to her. The alleged damages are unspecified and the claim is currently pending.

In February 2019, a customer complained that Peggs violated the securities laws by alleging that Peggs representative placed them in an unsuitable holding when they rebalanced the portfolio in March of 2015 and that the holding in question then lost significant value.  The alleged damages are $20,000 and the claim settled for $15,000.

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shutterstock_150746-300x199According to BrokerCheck records Ross Sinclaire & Associates, LLC (Ross Sinclaire) has been subject to a regulatory action over, among other things, the firm’s sales practices with respect to several private placement offerings.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Ross Sinclaire has been accused by FINRA of failing to disclose material information to investors in relation to several offerings offerings.

FINRA alleged that in March and April 2014, Ross Sinclaire was the exclusive placement agent for a private placement of notes and was involved in the preparation and circulation of a Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM) to seven accredited investors for notes.  The proceeds were to provide to a film production company for the advance funding of anticipated state tax credits.  The CIM disclosed that in addition to a 2% commission, Ross Sinclaire would also earn a “certain percentage” of profits on the sale of tax credits but failed to disclose that it would earn half of those profits.  FINRA found that this information was a material fact that would have been important to investors.  FINRA also found that the CIM also failed to disclose that one of Ross Sinclaire’s registered representatives was Vice President or the issuer.

In another offering, FINRA alleged that between December 2015 and December 2016, Ross Sinclaire omitted material facts from the Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) for municipal bonds underwritten by the Firm to finance the construction of a community recreation center. FINRA found that Ross Sinclaire failed to disclose in the PPM: (i) that the issuer had threatened to default on an earlier series of bonds and bond anticipation notes (BANs); (ii) that a loan agreement existed between the issuer and Ross Sinclaire: and (iii) information about the finances of both the issuer and Ross Sinclaire.  FINRA determined that this information should have been included in the PPM as it would have been material to investors in deciding whether to invest in the bonds.

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shutterstock_182371613-300x200According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Joseph Pratte (Pratte), formerly associated with Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator Investors) in Riverside, California was terminated by his firm concerning allegations he engaged in prohibited outside business activity (OBA) and failed to submit the activity to the firm for approval as required.

Thereafter, in May 2018 FINRA sought to question Pratte concerning his OBA.  FINRA found that Pratte failed to cooperate with the investigation.  Accordingly, FINRA determined that Pratte consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he refused to provide information in response to FINRA requests made to review Pratte’s outside business activities.

At this time it is unclear the extent of Pratte’s outside business activities or if private securities transactions were involved.  However, Pratte disclosed that he was engaged in a rental property business.

shutterstock_185582-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Kenneth Jones (Jones), in May 2017, was terminated by his firm, Aegis Capital Corp. (Aeigs Capital) based on allegations that Jones was under investigation for failure to disclose outside business activities.  Subsequently, Jones was barred from the industry by FINRA after FINRA requested documents and information and he failed to provide the FINRA requested documents and information.  FINRA sought documents concerning the circumstances surrounding Jones’s termination from his member firm and of certain municipal bond trades that Jones performed while registered with the firm.

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Jones’ outside business activities or if they involve private securities transactions.  Jones’ CRD lists that he is engaged in insurance an outside business activity at the Mather Christian Church.  Often times undisclosed outside business activities can lead to private securities transactions.  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”.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion.  In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public.  Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

shutterstock_39128059-300x174According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisors Clement Chichester (Chichester) and Brittney Sias (Sias), in October 2017, were terminated by their firm, Western International Securities, Inc. (Western International) based on allegations that they accepted a FINRA sanction.  Chichester and Sias were barred from the industry by FINRA after FINRA requested documents and information and they failed to provide FINRA with the requested documents and information after initially providing partial responses to a previous request in connection with FINRA’s investigation of their alleged receipt of funds from a customer of the firm.

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Chichester’s and Sias’ private securities activities.  Chichester CRD lists that he is engaged in insurance as an outside business activity.  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”.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm.  However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion.  In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public.  Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system.  Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

shutterstock_113632177-300x249According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Christopher Parr (Parr), in October 2017, was under investigation by FINRA based on a preliminary determination that Parr’s conduct allegedly violated FINRA Rules 3240, 3280, and 2010.  In addition, the state of Kansas has a pending regulatory mater concerning allegations that Parr borrowed money from a client on three occasions and did not disclose the loans to his firm.  These allegations concern conduct that occurred while Parr was registered with KCD Financial, Inc. (KCD Financial).

At this time it is unclear the extent and scope of Parr’s activities.  Parr’s CRD lists that he does business under the name First Capital Group, Inc.

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”.

shutterstock_103665437The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating a regulatory complaint (Disciplinary No. 2013038770901) filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Ricky Moore (Moore). FINRA alleged that between March 2012 and April 2013, while he was registered with Commonwealth Financial Network (Commonwealth Financial) Moore failed to disclose to the firm his outside business activities, also referred to as “selling away”, involving the facilitation of a church bond offering for a church located in Brazoria, Texas. In addition, to the FINRA complaint Moore has been subject to three customer complaints.

FINRA alleged in the complaint that Moore failed to disclose to his member firm his outside business activities involving the facilitation of a church bond offering for a church. The complaint alleges that Moore acted as the president and director of the church and facilitated the church bond offering for the church. In addition, FINRA found that Moore made a false and misleading statement on his firm’s annual compliance questionnaire when asked whether he had participated in raising capital, equity, or debt for a public or private investment. Moore answered “No” and also falsely stated that he had no undisclosed outside business activities. Thereafter, Commonwealth Financial conducted an investigation and Moore was permitted to resign after the firm terminated Moore’s registration.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

shutterstock_189276023The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the employment separation filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Patrick Sands (Sands). According to BrokerCheck records Sands has been the subject of at least one customer complaint and one employment termination for cause.

In November 2015, Sands’ then brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) terminated Sands for cause alleging that the broker engaged in conduct inconsistent with the firm’s selling away policies. Participated in private securities transactions without approval of the firm is a practice known as “selling away” in the industry. The allegations appear to involve investments in private placements or direct participation programs such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), oil and gas programs, or equipment leasing.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

shutterstock_20354401The securities fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) and the agency’s bar of broker Eugene Smietana (Smietana). According to BrokerCheck records Smietana has been the subject of at least four customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and four tax liens or judgments. The customer complaints against Smietana allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.

In September 2015, Smietana was barred by FINRA for failing to respond to the regulators requests for information. In addition, Smietana has several sizeable liens and judgments entered against him. Substantial judgements and liens on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services. A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

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.