VSR Financial Services Settles FINRA Claim Over Improper Securities Sales Made to Senior Investors
VSR Financial Services, an investment firm, has agreed to pay $10.3 million to settle a FINRA claim that it failed to properly supervise two ex-brokers accused of improperly selling risky investments to 249 customers. The agreement ends the litigation brought by the investors, many of them retirees, against VSR and its two ex-brokers, Rebecca Engle and Brian Schuster.
Although a number of securities fraud lawsuits have been filed against Schuster, Engle, and VSR, most of the investment fraud victims opted to pursue their cases through arbitration because the terms of their investment agreements prevented them from filing lawsuits. The claimants have accused the former VSR brokers of selling them investments that were inappropriate and high-risk.
The majority of investors who were defrauded say that because they were already either retired or about to retire, they had wanted to place their money in investments that were conservative and low risk. Instead, they claim that Schuster and Engle made high-risk investments for them, selling them securities in Royal Palm Capital Group and American Capital Corp while failing to explain the risks involved. Schuster and Engle allegedly promoted these investments as “mini Berkshire Hathaways” and “can’t miss” opportunities when the companies were actually startups that had limited operating histories. According to criminal complaints and court documents, the investment fraud victims lost at least $20 million.
Engle and Schuster have been charged with eight felony counts of securities fraud. They worked together a number of times between 2000 and 2007 and have also been affiliated with Wachovia Securities LLC and Capital Growth Financial LLC. More arbitration claims against the other companies they’ve been associated with are pending.
Employer to pay $10M, CayCompass.com, May 24, 2009
VSR Financial Services settles securities claims, Kansas City, May 20, 2009