Articles Posted in A G Edwards

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan says that A.G. Edwards & Sons LLC will pay $755,000 to settle charges over improper annuity sales. The financial firm allegedly sold variable annuities without the necessary documentation to elderly clients. The Missouri’s Securities Division, AG began its investigation because an 18-year-old Missouri resident reported noticing irregularities after the liquidation of a variable annuity.

Per the investigation’s findings, AG Edwards, now known as Wells Fargo Advisors after Wachovia Corp. acquired it and the latter was later acquired by Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), sold the annuities to elderly clients but failed to maintain proper records of transactions. This lack of proper documentation prevented the annuity sales, which occurred between July 2006 and June 2007, from being in compliance with company policy and state law.

At least 31 Missouri investors were affected by this oversight. They will receive $381,993. The Missouri Investor Education and Protection Fund will get $375,000. The Missouri’s Securities Division will be reimbursed the $50,000 it cost to probe the investor complaint.

In a release issued last month, Carnahan said that she appreciated AG Edwards’s willingness “to work with my office.” She also reminded investors that if they believe their investment is at risk, they can always contact her office for help. Meantime, Wells Fargo Advisors says it is pleased that these “legacy issues” have been resolved.

Related Web Resources:
Carnahan Secures $380,000 for Missouri Seniors, Robin Carnahan, Missouri Secretary of State, April 19, 2011
Poor Record-Keeping Costs A.G. Edwards $755k, Annuity News Journal, April 29, 2011
AG Edwards pays $755,000 to end annuities probe, STL Today, April 20, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Protect Yourself from Texas Securities Fraud by Making Sure that the Company or Agent that Sells You Annuities Has a Valid Insurance License, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 13, 2010
Market Timing Violations Against AG Edwards & Sons Inc. Supervisors and Broker Upheld by the SEC, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 17, 2009 Continue reading

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is upholding the market timing violations against two AG Edwards and Sons Inc. supervisors and one of its stockbrokers. Billions of dollars were involved in the mutual fund market timing transactions.

While market timing, which involves the buying and selling of mutual fund shares in a manner that takes advantage of price inefficiencies, is not illegal, a violation of 1934 Securities Exchange Act Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5. can arise when there is intent to deceive.

Last year, the ALJ found that AG Edwards and Sons brokers Charles Sacco and Thomas Bridge intentionally violated antifraud provisions when they engaged in market timing activities even though they had been restricted from doing so. The ALJ also found that supervisors Jeffrey Robles and James Edge failed to properly supervise the stockbrokers.

The antifraud charges filed against Bridge by the SEC Enforcement Division involved 1,352 trades (representing $1.126 billion) he executed over a two-year period for companies belonging to client Martin Oliner. The Enforcement Division accused Sacco of entering 25,533 market timing trades (representing $4.036 billion) for two hedge fund clients between 5/02 – 9/03.

The SEC determined that Edge, who was Bridge’s supervisor, knew and was complicit in the latter’s actions. Although Robles was not considered to have been complicit in Sacco’s alleged broker fraud, the commission said he should have noticed there were problems.

The SEC ordered Bridge to cease and desist from future violations. He is also barred from associating with any dealers or brokers for five years. Sacco has already settled his broker-fraud case.

Edge is barred from acting in a supervisory role over any dealer or broker for five years. Robles received a similar bar lasting three years. All three men were ordered to pay penalties, while Bridge was ordered to disgorge almost $39,000 plus $16,665.57 in prejudgment interest.

Related Web Resources:
Read the SEC’s Opinion regarding this matter

Commission Sanctions Thomas C. Bridge for Violations of the Antifraud Provisions of the Securities Laws and James D. Edge and Jeffrey K. Robles for Failing to Supervise Reasonably, Trading Markets, September 29, 2009 Continue reading

A former broker who was fired from both AG Edwards, Inc.and Stifel Nicolaus & Co. has been ordered to serve a 21-month federal prison sentence for selling fraudulent investments to Stifel Nicolaus clients. Neil Rolla Harrison told clients that they were investing in commodities futures or the gold market when in fact the stockbroker was using their money to support his drinking and gambling habits.

A federal grand jury indicted the 54-year-old former broker last May. Harrison pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. He has been ordered to pay $91,303 in restitution.

It is not clear, however, whether the investment fraud victims will recoup their losses. One of his targets, 67-year-old Ralph Brock, says that because he has worked as a self-employed trucker for most of his life, the only retirement he had was the one he created through investing.

AG Edwards fired Harrison in 2005 after the broker-dealer discovered that he was borrowing money from clients. Stifel Nicolaus hired him soon after even though the broker-dealer knew that AG Edwards had fired him. Stifel Nicolaus fired Harrison when the thefts were discovered.

Brokers are entrusted with the responsibility of handling a client’s finances. Many investors seek the services of a stockbroker because they don’t have the knowledge and experience to make their own investments in a sound manner.

When a broker breaches that duty of care and money is lost it is usually the victims of securities fraud that suffer. This can be devastating-especially for the many clients who rely on their investments to get them through retirement or put their children through school. Any loss as a result of stockbroker fraud is unacceptable.

Related Web Resources:
Former stockbroker gets 21-month sentence, The Telegraph, September 18, 2009
Stifel broker gets jail time for scam, St. Louis Business Journal, September 18, 2009
United States Postal Inspection Service

Illinois Securities Department
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A former stockbroker that used to work for A.G. Edwards and Stifel Nicolaus has pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Neil R. Harrison, could spend up to 27 months behind bars-although his agreement to repay $85,739, cooperate with police, and lack of a criminal record could help him receive less than the 21-month minimum sentence. Harrison is accused of defrauding clients at two Illinois firms. He solicited investors to place their money in commodities futures and the gold market but instead used their funds for gambling. The mail fraud charge is based on a wire transfer confirmation mailed to a Stifel client.

While this may be Harrison’s first official brush with the law, he was let go from A.G. Edwards in 2005 for failing to cooperate with a probe regarding his efforts to get a loan from a client. A.G. Edwards filed the necessary securities documents regarding his firing. Even though Stifel Nicolaus was aware of Harrison’s background, the broker-dealer still hired him-with a special supervised agreement-just 10 days after A.G. Edwards terminated him.

Stifel would eventually fire the stockbroker in 2008 for “unethical and professional misconduct.” The broker-dealer accused Harrison of soliciting and getting money and personal loans from clients for fraudulent investments.

Per Harrison’s plea agreement: The ex-stockbroker persuaded clients to sign paperwork to open margin accounts without making sure that they had a good understanding of what these accounts were or the interest rates associated with them. He would then direct his broker-dealer to issue wire transfers to the investors’ checking accounts to replace money that was issued to him for the bogus investments. He also made material misrepresentations to clients and prospective investors. He told them they could make a lot of money but they would have to go outside the traditional brokerage account for diversity when making investments.

At least five investors were defrauded.

Related Web Resources:
Ex-stockbroker pleads guilty to mail fraud, The Telegraph, June 23, 2009
Former broker accused of mail fraud, The Telegraph, May 21, 2009
Illinois Securities Department
Continue reading

Three A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. brokers are being ordered to pay $750,000 in fines for their participation in a market-timing scheme that involved mutual funds that benefited certain customers.

The brokers, Thomas Bridge, James Edge, and Jeffrey Robles, were also ordered to serve suspensions from the securities industries. Bridge, a former registered representative in the firm’s Boca Raton, Florida office, must also disgorge $39,808.53. Edge was the branch manager at the same office. Robles worked as a branch manager at Edwards’ Back Bay office.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chief Administrative Law Judge Brenda Murray ordered the sanctions. The market-timing scam occurred from the Edwards’ branch offices in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, and Boston.

Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney and Charles Schwab are being sued for claims they improperly directed their clients’s funds into lower paying deposit accounts at affiliate banks, enabling those banks to reap billions in extra profits. Attorneys for investors seek permission to add Wachovia, based on “sweep” accounts it will receive from AG Edwards in an impending merger.

Details of the suit, filed in January but amended last month, had not previously been reported. Bank deposit sweep programs “put the broker in a very conflicted position” said an attorney for the investors recently, adding “this is not what they should be doing as financial advisers.”

The claim states that the firms are positioning themselves as objective financial advisers, but send their customers’ funds into bank deposits paying far less than market rates, adding that the firms disclose to clients that more profitable accounts are available, but bury the disclosures in documents while failing to mention the magnitude of their profits.

Wachovia Corporation agreed to acquire A.G. Edwards Corporation for $6.8 billion in stock. This will vault Wachovia into the second-largest U.S. retail brokerage, behind only Merrill Lynch, with $1.1 trillion in client assets.

This transaction is the largest of the recent takeovers of regional brokerage firms, which are having difficulty fending off hiring of their representatives. Falling commissions in the industry has caused disruptions in sales staffs.

For years there has been speculation over whether A.G. Edwards, a mostly employee owned firm, could maintain its independence and raises new speculation about other large regional brokerages like Raymond James.