Articles Tagged with SII Investments

shutterstock_114128113-300x238The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating broker Paul Mauro (Mauro), currently associated with SagePoint Financial, Inc. (SagePoint Financial) out of Westborough, Massachusetts.  According to a BrokerCheck report, Mauro has been subject to at least nine customer disputes, two regulatory actions, and one criminal matter during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaints against Mauro concern allegations of unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations.

In February 2018, as a result of Mauro’s disclosure incidents, the State of Massachusetts Securities Division placed conditions on Mauro’s registrations in Massachusetts and required him to be placed under heightened supervision by his brokerage firm.

In December 2018 a customer alleged that in 2017 Mauro unsuitably purchased variable annuity causing $6,630 in damages.  The claim was denied.

In June 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Mauro made unsuitable recommendations causing $86,000 in damages.  The claim was denied.

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shutterstock_99315272-300x300According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) former Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge Securities) broker Edward Klug (Klug) left the securities industry in May 2018 after disclosing several large tax liens in the prior years.  Klug has made seven financial related disclosures and lists four customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Klug allege churning or excessive trading.

In March 2018 Klug disclosed a $141,711 tax lien against him.  In May 2017, Klug disclosed a $482,714 tax lien against him.  Prior to that, in April 2016 Klug disclosed a $44,229 tax lien against him.  Such disclosures on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services.  FINRA discloses information concerning a broker’s financial condition because a broker’s inability to handle their own personal finances has also been found to be material information 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.

shutterstock_61848763-300x203The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating former International Assets Advisory, LLC (International Assets) broker Frank Cuenca.  According to BrokerCheck records, in December 2017, Cuenca was terminated by SII Investments, Inc. (SII investments) for failing to follow his firm’s procedures regarding submitting variable annuity transactions. He also failed to submit a customer complaint and unapproved email in a timely manner. In addition, Cuenca has been subject to five customer disputes, the majority alleging failure to follow customer instructions.

In March 2009, a customer alleged that in 2008, Cuenca failed to follow customer instructions to liquidate the account and to move $12,000 back into the market. The customer requested $12,000 in damages.

In December 2008, a customer alleged that Cuenca liquidated the customer account without the customer knowledge or permission. The customer requested $5,000 in damages.

shutterstock_160071281-300x168According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Scott Newsholme (Newsholme), in September 2017, was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of stealing more than $1 million from his clients.  Newsholme’s problems began back in July 2014 when he was terminated by his then employer SII Investments, Inc. (SII).  SII stated that Newsholme was terminated due to allegations that Newsholme stole her IRA assets and engaged in private securities transactions.

In addition to being an investment advisor, Newsholme is a tax preparer, accountant, and the proprietor of MVP Financial LLC in Howell, New Jersey.   Between 2002 and 2010 Newsholme was president of two predecessor tax, accounting, and financial planning firms in Matawan, New Jersey – Newley Financial Group, Inc. and Newsholme Financial Center LLC.

In September 2014, FINRA brought an action against Newsholme and ultimately barred him from the industry when Newsholme failed to respond to information requests concerning the issues raised in his SII termination.  In June 2015, the State of New Jersey revoked Newsholme’s securities license and imposed an $85,000 fine stating that Newsholme egage in unethical business practices.

shutterstock_150746According to InvestmentNews, recently several brokerage firms including Securities America Inc., with 1,772 registered reps and advisers, and the four National Planning Holdings Inc. firms with 3,954 registered reps and advisers including INVEST Financial Corp., Investment Centers of America Inc., National Planning Corp., and SII Investments Inc., announced that they are temporarily suspending some or all of the non-traded real estate investment trust (Non-Traded REITs) sales sponsored or distributed by American Realty Capital and its affiliated companies.

These Non-Traded REITs include investments such as the Phillips Edison-ARC Grocery Center REIT II and Cole Capital Properties V. The decision to halt sales come as Nicholas Schorsch, ARC’s chairman, faces further investigation after it had been revealed that the traded REIT he controls, American Realty Capital Properties Inc., made a $23 million accounting error that resulted in the firing of its chief financial officer.

The firms halted the sales in order to conduct further due diligence on the Non-Traded REIT products. Suspending sales of these products will likely help protect the firms if it is later revealed that the irregularities are more widespread. Brokers have a duty to have a reasonable basis for recommending that Non-Traded REITs are suitable for investors. This means that the firm has investigated the product and believes that the information disclosed to investors has a factual basis. If a Non-Traded REIT, its parent company, or principals are under investigation for making material misstatements it would be difficult for the firm to later argue that it had a basis for believing that the information it provided to investors was accurate.

shutterstock_54385804The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought a complaint against broker Anthony Diaz (Diaz) concerning a host of industry violations. Diaz entered the securities industry in January 2000 and has been registered with eleven different firms over fourteen years. Diaz is currently employed by IBN Financial Services, Inc., (IBN Financial) since September 2012.

Diaz has a long and troubled history of securities related violations and misconduct. There have been at least 14 customer complaints filed against Diaz, he has been subject to 5 firm terminations, and has two judgments. FINRA also found that Diaz was fired or permitted to resign by six of the eleven member firms with which he was registered for. On or about November 21, 2002, Edward Jones fired Diaz for providing inaccurate information during a supervisory review, was terminated by Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. because it was “no longer comfortable supervising”, was permitted to resign on April 1, 2009, by First Allied Securities, Inc. because he had a history of customer complaints and administrative infractions., was fired by SII Investments, Inc. for unauthorized trading, was fired by Kovack Securities, Inc. because of complaints alleging unauthorized trades, and finally was fired by Sandlapper Securities, LLC for soliciting sales of variable annuities without being properly appointed by the issuing company.

FINRA alleged that from March 2010, through May 2011, Diaz induced approximately eighty customers to enter into variable annuity exchanges causing significant surrender charges without a reasonable basis for recommending these exchanges. FINRA found that each customer invested in the same fund, had the same subaccount allocation, and had the same rider selected. FINRA alleged that Diaz recommended the annuity exchanges without having an understanding of the features of the new product and used the same three invalid justifications for nearly all of these exchanges.

Paul Renard (Renard) a broker with SII Investments, Inc. (SII) was recently suspended for two years and fined $60,000 by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over allegations that Renard: (1) recommended that at least four customers buy and hold nontraditional ETFs without having reasonable grounds for believing that the recommended investments were suitable for those customers; (2)  distributed at least nine independently prepared reprints to customers without Ameriprise’s review and approval; (3) used a personal email account, which Ameriprise did not monitor, to distribute the materials; and (4) failed to disclose two tax liens filed against him by the State of Wisconsin.  In addition, at least 21 customer complaints have been filed against Renard.

Renard was previously a registered representative of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc (Ameriprise) from August 21, 2009, until June 22, 2011, when Ameriprise terminated his registration alleging that Renard failed to comply with company policies by soliciting prohibited securities, use of external email account, and failed to properly update his disclosures.  Prior to Ameriprise Renard was registered with Securities America, Inc. from November 2009 through May 2011.  Renard’s BrokerCheck discloses that he is also the president of First Tee of Green Bay, a managing director of Reedsville Granary LLC, and employed with PDI Financial.

FINRA alleged that Ameriprise implemented a policy prohibiting its representatives from recommending or soliciting nontraditional ETFs. Under the policy, customers could hold existing nontraditional ETF positions but any new purchases could only occur on an unsolicited basis.  On September 2, 2009, Renard entered a solicited buy order for an inverse ETF in a customer’s account.  Ameriprise’s compliance department informed Renard that Ameriprise did not allow its representatives to solicit nontraditional ETF purchases.  Nonetheless, according to FINRA, Renard continued to solicit customers to purchase nontraditional ETFs.

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