Articles Posted in Raymond James

Former JPMorgan Broker Who Stole Over $20M from Richest Clients, Gambled, Goes to Prison
Michael Oppenheim, a former broker with JPMorgan Chase & CO. (JPM), has been sentenced to five years behind bars. Oppenheim pleaded guilty last year to stealing over $20 million from 10 of his richest clients. At one point Oppenheim managed nearly $90 million for 500 clients. He claims he was addicted to sports gambling.

He began betting on NFL games in 1993 and later got involved in online sports betting. After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, he began stealing from clients to cover his losses. Oppenheim also started options trading in tech stocks to repay these clients and in one day lost $2.7M. He concealed the theft by providing customers with bogus account statements.

Prosecutors contend that Oppenheim persuaded clients to take out up to millions of dollars from their accounts by promising to put their money in low risk municipal bonds that would be kept at the bank. Instead, he used the funds to get cashier’s checks that he deposited into accounts that were his but located outside the bank. Oppenheim purportedly targeted clients he knew wouldn’t be watching their accounts closely. His scam went on for over seven years.

FINRA Bars Broker for Senior Financial Fraud
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred David Joseph Escarcega from the financial industry. Escarcega is accused of making a dozen unsuitable recommendations involving debentures tied to the life insurance policy secondary market and targeting elderly clients. He must also pay a $52,270 fine, which is how much he kept in commissions.

According to FINRA, Escarcega sold the debt instruments, which were issued by CWG Holdings Inc., from 3/12 to 6/13. The regulator said that the debentures were very risky and only suitable for investors that could afford to lose all of their investments. The 12 customers involved in this matter were not that type of investor. A lot of the investments were placed in IRAs.
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In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration case, Raymond James Financial Services Inc. (RJF) has been ordered to pay David B. Silipigno $593,540 plus 3 years and 9 months of interest. That’s an award of about $795,000. According to Silipigno’s attorney, the securities arbitration case involved an RIA who may not have not licensed with FINRA but worked out of the Raymond James independent contractor branch office.

The attorney said that such a work configuration may cause problems in that a non-registered adviser could effectively become a defacto employee of a brokerage firm. OnWallStreet.com names the broker involved as Karen Powell, who has been affiliated with Raymond James since 1999.

Silipingo, in his claim, asserted a number of causes of action, including common law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, beach of contract, suitability, churning, failure to supervise, and violations of Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act violation and The Florida Securities Investor Protection Act. Raymond James continues to deny the allegations. The arbitration panel denied the firm’s request to have Powell’s CRD expunged in this matter.
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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred Jo Ellen Fischer, an independent financial adviser with Raymond James Services Inc. (RJF), for purportedly stealing nearly $1 million from a 95-year-old client. At the time, Fisher worked for Peoples Bancorp.

According to the self-regulatory organization, from July to December 2013, Fisher converted $924,750 from the elderly customer’s trust without permission. She did this by moving funds and securities into a brokerage account under her daughter’s name. Fisher then liquidated securities and used the money to cover her personal spending, including two Rolexes, motor vehicles, a 2-carat diamond ring, and other expenses.

FINRA says that Fisher claimed that the elderly client was her daughter’s godfather and he wanted her to have the money when she was older. The SRO, however, contends that Fisher falsified documents regarding this matter. She has agreed to the bar without denying or admitting to the findings alleging elder financial fraud.

Affiliated RIAs of Raymond James to Get Access to Firm’s Alternative Investments

The Raymond James Alternative Investment Group will give its affiliated registered investment advisers access to hedge funds, private real estate, managed futures, private equity, and alternative mutual funds beginning next month. The move is part of Raymond James’ (RJF) attempt to strengthen its RIA platform.

Already, it has added more support services for investment advisers in the areas of marketing, practice marketing, and succession planning. The financial firm also brought in four regional director for recruiting and existing practices while cutting equity ticket charges and waving certain individual retirement account fees.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that, for purposes of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration, investors who lost the investment they made on stock they purchased from a lawyer connected to a Raymond James Financial Services (RJF) Inc. broker are not the brokerage firm’s client. The appeals court said that the investors dealings with the broker-dealer were “too remote.”

Tax lawyer David Affeldt had been recruited by an Inofin Inc. executive to recommend to investors that they buy securities from the company. That employee happened to be the college roommate of then-Morgan Stanley (MS) representative Kevin Keough, who also informally acted in a sales capacity for Inofin.

Because of his employment with the financial firm at the time, Keough had Inofin pay his compensation for the referrals to his wife instead of to him. He and Affeldt, however, agreed to equally share these referral fees-an agreement that continued even after Keough went to work with Raymond James.

Three years after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority awarded former Chicago Bulls forward Horace Grant a $1.46 million arbitration award in his securities claim against Morgan Keegan & Co., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld that ruling. Grant, who had suffered losses in the brokerage firm’s mortgage-backed bond funds, accused the brokerage firm of not disclosing to him that his investments were not suitable for him, withholding information about the actual risks involved, and failing to supervisor the fund manager. Morgan Keegan is now part of Raymond James Financial Inc. (RJF).

Grant bought the majority of the funds through his account with Morgan Keegan in 2004 when the brokerage firm owned the sports agency that represented him. The mortgage-backed bond funds were among a group of investment products that took huge losses in value in 2007 and 2008 when the subprime market failed.

Hundreds of investors proceeded to file securities claims against Morgan Keegan, which finally agreed to settle with regulators for $200 million the allegations that it had inflated the value of the high-risk subprime securities that the funds held. James Kelsoe, a fund manager who is accused of purposely inflating the subprime securities’ value, would later to agree to an industry bar by the SEC and consent to pay a $500,000 penalty.

Raymond James Financial Services has paid the $1.79M Dallas securities arbitration award plus interest it owes to Hurshel Tyler and the estate of his wife Mildred. They filed their claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Both were in their 80’s.

They contend that they were advised by an ex-Raymond James representative to take their $3.5M in bond funds and place them in variable life insurance and variable annuities. Unfortunately, the life insurance policy was tied to $2M in improper loans, interest obligations, and ongoing tax that made it difficult to return the financial product to the brokerage firm. Tyler and Mildred’s estate claim that the stockbroker, Daul Davis, made a recommendation to them that was unsuitable.

Davis not only advised the Tylers to liquidate their municipal bond portfolio and make the new investments, but also, unknown to the couple, he moved them from one variable annuity to another, which cost them a significant surrender fee and commission. The Tylers’ Texas stockbroker lawyer says that by making the couple’s son the new annuity’s annuitant, the financial firm and Davis earned over twice the commission than if Hurshel Tyler had been the annuitant. (Usually, the annuitant and annuity owner are the same person. However, the insurance company that was involved only offered a 3.25% commission for annuitants over 80 years of age, while the commission for someone younger than that was 7.5%)

A FINRA arbitration panel sided with Tylers. The couple had sought to recoup their money, but instead panel members instead awarded them with compensatory damages.

Raymond James went on to appeal that decision. The broker-dealer argued that the couple should have given the annuities back. They also contended that they shouldn’t have to pay the couple’s $250K in legal fees because Florida, which is where the financial firm is based, doesn’t allow for this type of award.

Although Raymond James has gone ahead and paid the arbitration award, the broker-dealer maintains that the payment is unjust. The financial firms claims that not only did the couple make over $800,000 while the accounts were under its watch, but also, any losses they sustained occurred after they moved the accounts to a different broker-dealer. Raymond James says that despite disagreeing with the FINRA panel’s ruling, it has gone ahead and paid what it considers an “erroneous award” because in the long run doing so now would be less costly than continuing to contest it.

This Texas securities arbitration award is the largest one that Raymond James has ever had to pay.

Raymond James Pays Highest Arbitration Award in History, LifeHealthPro, November 30, 2011
After appeal fails, RJ forks over $1.8M to 87-year-old client, Investment News, November 30, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Former Texan and First Capital Savings and Loan To Pay $4.5M for Alleged Foreign Currency Ponzi Scheme, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 11, 2011
Texas Securities Fraud: SEC Moves to Freeze Assets of Stewardship Fund LP, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 5, 2011
Houston Judge Overturns $9.2M Securities Fraud Ruling Against Morgan Keegan, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 11, 2011 Continue reading

Raymond James has agreed to return $31,240,000 to Indiana investors to settle allegations that it misled them about the risks involved in the auction-rate securities market. In addition to repurchasing ARS that have been frozen since the market failed in 2008, the financial firm will also pay a $63,000 civil penalty.

When the ARS market froze, investors that had thought their investments were liquid like cash were left in the lurch because they were not able to retrieve their funds. The Indiana Securities Division has been at the helm of the efforts to investigated Raymond James and work out a settlement for all state securities regulators. Over the last few years, the states have worked hard to get all of the financial firms accused of not fully apprising investors about the ARS risks to buy back the securities.

Auction-Rate Securities
ARS are long-term investments with dividends or interest rates paid that are frequently reset through auctions that take place at specific intervals. The auctions are supposed to give a source of liquidity to investors wanting to sell their ARS.

Unfortunately, when the ARS market collapsed in early 2008, many of the auctions started to fail and investors could not get rid of their ARS holdings. This proved a problem for those that managed their ARS as a way to get easy access to cash.

While some ARS issuers did say they would redeem shares-usually at par value-some could not redeem all of their investors’ shares, which left the latter with holdings that could not be liquidated.

ARS and Hoosier Investors
The state of Indiana has also reached ARS settlements with other securities firms that allegedly misled Hoosier investors. In April of last year, 12 financial firms agreed to buyback over $370 million in ARS from these investors, while also consenting to pay over $3.5 million in fines. Financial firms that reached settlements then include:

• Goldman Sachs • Banc of America • Credit Suisse • Citigroup • JP Morgan • Deutsch Bank
• Morgan Stanley • Merrill Lynch • RBC • UBS • Stifel Nicolaus & Co.
• Wachovia
These financial firms have also reached settlements with other US states. However, millions of dollars in ARS remain frozen and there is still more to be done to help investors regain access to their frozen funds. Our stockbroker fraud law firm continues to work hard to help recoup our clients’ money from their ARS that turned illiquid.

Securities Fraud
Investors rely on brokers and investment advisers for advice on where they should place their money. When a financial adviser misleads a client, causing the latter to put their money in investments that are inappropriate, it is the investor who loses out and has to live with the consequences of a failed investment.

State Announces $31 Million Securities Settlement, Inside Indiana Business, August 24, 2011
State finalizes auction-rate securities settlements, Indianapolis Business Journal, April 29, 2010
Auction Rate Securities: What Happens When Auctions Fail, FINRA

More Blog Posts:

Auction-Rate Securities Investigations by SEC and NY Attorney General Are Ongoing, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 21, 2011
Class Auction-Rate Securities Lawsuit Against Raymond James Financial Survives Dismissal, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 27, 2010
Credit Suisse Ordered to Pay STMicroelectronics N.V. $404M Over Improper ARS Investment, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 15, 2011 Continue reading

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has allowed some of the investor claims in the class action auction-rate securities lawsuit against broker dealer Raymond James Financial Inc. (RJF) and its broker-dealer subsidiary to proceed. This is the first ARS class action case filed since the auction rate securities market failed in 2008 to survive a dismissal motion. The case can now go to the discovery stage.

Kaplan, who had dismissed an earlier lawsuit in this case, let the plaintiffs move forward with their ARS case on the claim that Raymond James & Associates Inc. (RJA) violated antifraud provisions between November 2007 and February 13, 2008. A claim against RJF was allowed to proceed because of its “operational and management control” of RJA during this time. Other claims were dismissed.

Investors had filed the initial class action in April 2008 against RJA, RJF, and Raymond James Financial Services Inc. (RJFS), another Raymond James broker-dealer subsidiary. The plaintiffs contended that between April 8, 2003 and February 13, 2008, the two subsidiaries told financial advisers that ARS were extremely liquid, short-term investments that could work well for any investor with at least $25,000 and with as little as a week to invest. However, when the ARS market failed, over $300 million in ARS became illiquid. Per Kaplan, RJA sold $2.3 billion of ARS, underwrote $1.2 billion, and was the auction dealer for over $725 million.

ARS cases filed by individual investors have been faring better than class-action ARS lawsuits. Of the class-action and group complaints filed against some 19 underwriters and broker-dealers since the ARS market failed, Bloomberg.com reports that Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, and at least six other financial firms have managed to get the lawsuits thrown out by judges ruling that the complaints failed to meet pleading requirements. Some plaintiffs were told to refile their lawsuits and provide more details.

Raymond James Auction Rate Class-Action Fraud Suit Is First to Be Upheld, Bloomberg, September 8, 2010
Court Clears Lawsuit Against Raymond James, FA-Mag.com, September 9, 2010 Continue reading

Raymond James and Associates Inc. and financial advisor Larry Milton must pay Rex and Sherese Glendenning $925,000, says a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel. The Texas securities case involved an auction-rate securities dispute. brokerage firm advisor Milton has been accused of misrepresenting that the ARS the couple invested in was extremely liquid.

The Glendennings opened their Raymond James (NYSE: RJF) account in 2008 right before the ARS market failed. They claim that Milton, who had invested $1.4 million of their funds in an ARS that consisted of sewer revenue bonds, did not tell them that there was an inherent possibility that the securities might fail. Instead, they allege, he lead them to believe that the ARS could be easily sold. You can imagine their dismay when Raymond James refused their request to repurchase the ARS at full value.

The Gleddenings are not the only ones that the broker-dealer has been ordered to compensate. In just the last two months, Raymond James has been ordered to buy back $3.5 million in ARS from investors. A FINRA panel ordered the brokerage firm to repurchase $2.5 million in ARS from investor Greg Merdinger, who claims that not only was he told that auction-rate securities were safe and very liquid (even more than market funds), but also he contends that no one apprised him that there was an illiquidity risk. Raymond James affiliates Raymond James & Associates Inc. and Raymond James Financial Services Inc. were ordered to make the ARS repurchase.

Related Web Stories:
FINRA: Raymond James must pay $925,000 to couple, Reuters, August 25, 2010
Raymond James faces $2.5 million payback ruling, Tampa Biz, July 26, 2010

Related Blog Posts:
Raymond James Ordered to Buy Back $2.5M in ARS by FINRA, http://www.stockbrokerfraudblog.com, July 28, 2010
Raymond James and RBC Capital Markets Fined $1.4 Million in Total Over Improper Stock Lending Activities, http://www.stockbrokerfraudblog.com, June 22, 2009 Continue reading

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