According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Frederick Monroe (Monroe) has been the subject of at least three customer complaints alleging that the broker misappropriated funds. In total the customers complaint that over $2 million has been taken by the broker. Subsequently, Monroe’s brokerage firm, Voya Financial Advisors (Voya Financial), terminated Monroe due to the allegations. Monroe had been associated with Voya Financial since 2006.
On June 10, 2015, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arrest of Monroe and charging him with stealing over $1 million from investors by fraudulently soliciting them to reinvest their retirement monies in what essentially was a Ponzi scheme. Monroe was accused of luring clients that he provided services to as a financial planner by diverting their monies for his own personal use and paying back earlier investors he had defrauded. Monroe faces up to 25 years in prison.
The New York Attorney General also stated that while the current charges pertain to three victims the investigation has identified at least a dozen individuals who Monroe allegedly defrauded. According to the Attorney General’s felony complaint, Monroe’s fraud was carried by instructing investors to write checks to him personally and then deposited them into his personal operating account. Monroe is alleged to have advertised his services on the Capital Financial Planning, LLC website to “clients who have amassed a significant level of assets and seek to take advantage of advance advisory programs.”
In order to conceal and further his fraudulent scheme, Monroe allegedly created false financial statements that he gave to clients and would allegedly tell them that their money was being invested in bonds.
The conduct alleged against Monroe are referred to in the industry as “selling away” or private securities transactions. 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 the brokerage firm claim ignorance of their advisor’s activities, under the FINRA rules, a brokerage firm owes a duty 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 often occurs in brokerage firm that 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.