April 24, 2015

FINRA Bars Wells Fargo Broker to NFL, NBA Players Over Failure to Disclose Nightclub Involvement

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has barred broker Aaron Parthemer, a Wells Fargo (WFC) adviser, for taking part in a number of outside businesses and failing to disclose his involvement. FINRA has tight regulations that don’t allow brokers to take part in private securities transactions without notifying their firm and getting authorization. Parthemer, who used to be at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (MS) until four years ago, has advised numerous NBA and NFL athletes.

According to the SRO, he falsely represented, in compliance questionnaires he filled out while with both firms, that he was not taking part in external business activities that warranted disclosure. He also gave FINRA false data when the regulator started to ask for more information about external business activities in 2012.

Parthemer allegedly did not disclose the part he played in running Club Play, which used to be a South Beach, Florida nightclub, as well as his involvement in a tequila marketing operation and an Internet branding startup. FINRA also contends that the broker made unapproved loans to clients in connection with the club and referred clients to invest in the start up.

He also allegedly managed operations at Club Play until two years ago and loaned close to $400,000 to three professional athletes that had ownership stakes at the club and to Wells Fargo customers. The loans were to cover the club’s operating costs and violated the firm’s policy, which prevents brokers from lending funds to clients.

While working at both firms, Parthemer is accused of persuading a number of his professional athlete clients to invest over $3 million in the branding company that a friend of his ran.

FINRA released the terms of the settlement with Parthemer in a letter this week. He accepted the bar but did not deny or admit to the findings. A lawyer representing Parthemer said that he was never an owner of the club and he did not get any compensation from the external businesses.

If you suspect that you were the victim of broker fraud, do not hesitate to contact our stockbroker fraud law firm immediately.

Finra bars Wells Fargo broker who ran Miami nightclub, Investment News, April 23, 2015


More Blog Posts:
Killeen Man Accused of Texas Securities Fraud Targeting Military, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 23, 2015

Ex-F-Squared CEO Still Battling SEC, Firm Dealing With Fallout from Securities Fraud Charges, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 27, 2015

Former Tullett Prebon Broker, Rabobank Trader Plead Not Guilty To Libor Manipulation Charges, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 17, 2015

March 17, 2015

Financial Fraud Victims’ Suffering is More Than Just Monetary, Affirms FINRA Report

According to “Non-Traditional Costs of Financial Fraud,” which is a new research report by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, almost two-thirds of financial fraud victims who reported that they’d been bilked experienced at least one non-financial consequence to a serious degree. The findings show other ways in which this type of crime takes a toll on its targets.

Some 600 fraud victims took the survey online. Respondents were at least 25 years of age. Among the findings:

• The most commonly named non-financial fraud costs included serious stress, anxiety, sleeping problems, and depression.

• Other negative emotional reactions included anger, regret, betrayal, feeling like a victim, embarrassment, sadness, shame, helplessness, guilt, and confusion.

• There may have been fees, interest rates, legal fees, bounced checks and resulting fees from losing money because of the fraud.

• 9% of respondents reported bankruptcy.

• Almost half of respondents experienced self-blame. Many felt that they shouldn’t have been too trusting.

• The larger the amount of money stolen, the more non-financial costs were experienced.

• Victims who were confused about the fraud’s details were more likely to suffer from non-financial consequences.

• Just 15% of respondents had a significant amount of interaction with the fraudster.

• The smaller the financial loss, the less interaction there was with the alleged perpetrator.

• Respondents with higher incomes (at least $75K) were more likely to lose more money than those with lower incomes.

• The age of the respondent wasn’t a factor in terms of how much someone might lose from financial fraud.

• An introduction from a family friend or relative was the most common way cited for how the victim became acquainted with the fraudster.

• 68% of respondents told family or friends about the fraud.

• Just 35% of respondents told authorities.

• 48% of those that did not report the fraud said that doing so would not have changed the outcome.

Other reasons for not reporting fraud: embarrassment, not sure what to do, lack of time, and other reasons.

Some of the financial fraud incidents involved:

• Email solicitation from a stranger outside the US asking for a fee or deposit.
• A notification that the target had won a lottery or prize but needed to pay a fee to claim it.
• Learning about an investment through a free lunch seminar.
• Notification of grant eligibility but that a fee was required.
• A commission offered for referring people an investment.
• Phone solicitation.
• Notice of an unclaimed inheritance.


At Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP, we understand that the toll of financial fraud is more than just monetary. We are here to help investors get their losses back. Your initial case consultation with our investment fraud lawyers is free. We can help you explore your legal options.

Non-Traditional Costs of Financial Fraud,

FINRA Foundation Research Reveals Fraud Victims Vulnerable to Severe Stress
, Anxiety and Depression, FINRA March 9, 2015


More Blog Posts:

Ex-Green Bay Packers’ Bruce Wilkerson Awarded $2M Against Resource Horizons Group Over Ponzi Scam Involving Rogue Broker, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 16, 2015

CNL Lifestyle Properties REIT Dips in Value, May Sell Ski Resorts, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 16, 2015

Madoff Ponzi Scam Victims Recover Over $10 Billion, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 5, 2014

March 12, 2015

Brookeville Capital Partners Ordered by FINRA to Pay $1.5M for Private Placement Fraud

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that Brookeville Capital Partners must pay over $1 million to victims and a $500,000 fine for securities fraud related to private placement offering sales. The self-regulatory organization has barred the firm’s president, Anthony Lodati, from the securities industry.

According to FINRA, from 1/11 to 10/11 Brookeville and Lodati bilked customers in the sale of Wilshire Capital Partners Group, LLC, a private placement offering in which investors were to have an indirect interest in pre-IPO offering shares of Fisker Automotive. The SRO said that while the firm was soliciting customers to invest in the private placement offering, Lodati discovered that John Mattera, a person with a regulatory and criminal background, made transactions for Wilshire as its CEO and managing director.

Rather than disclosing that the Securities and Exchange Commission had sanctioned Mattera in 2010 for securities fraud, and also that he’d been convicted of a felony in the state of Florida in 2003, the firm and Lodati purportedly withheld this information, as well as information about Mattera’s connection to Wilshire, on purpose and kept soliciting investors. Brookeville sold more than $1 million of interests in the Wilshire offering to 29 customers and was paid over $104,000 in commissions.

In 2011, the Commission filed a fraud case against Mattera and other individuals over a scam that involved Wilshire and his bilking of investors of $13 million. Mattera was also convicted in criminal court and ordered to serve prison time.

The regulator was able to get a court order to freeze Wilshire’s assets, including the interests belonging to Brookeville customers. These customers lost all of their investment.

By settling, Brookeville and Lodati are not denying or admitting to the SEC charges.

At Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP, our securities lawyers help investors recover their fraud losses. Contact our private placement fraud law firm today.

Read the FINRA Action

FINRA Sanctions Brookville Capital Partners $1.5 Million and Bars President Anthony Lodati for Fraud, FINRA, March 12, 2015


More Blog Posts:
Wealthfront CEO Claims Schwab is Fooling Investors Over “Free” Automated Investment Platform, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 9, 2015

Appellate Court Says Charles Schwab & Co. Must Face Financial Advisory Firm’s Lawsuit Over Mortgage Debt Involving Bond Funds, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 9, 2015

District Court Imposes $26M Commodity Pool Fraud Penalty, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 7, 2015

February 27, 2015

Bill Seeks to Eliminate Mandatory Arbitration Clause From Brokerage Contracts, While SEC Approves New Public Arbitrator Limits

The Investor Choice Act in Congress, A U.S. House bill written by Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is looking to stop investment advisers and brokers from obligating investors to pursue their claims in arbitration instead of going to court. The proposed legislation would bar pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts between clients and their representatives.

As of now, almost all brokerage agreements, and an increasing number of investment adviser ones, come with provisions mandating that investors take their disputes to the arbitration system, which is run by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. There are those that believe that the forum favors brokers and advisers. Meantime, others say that the arbitration system is much more efficient for investors than going to court.

This is not the first time that Ellison has pushed for ending mandatory arbitration. He unveiled a similar bill in 2013 but it did not become law. The Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association has put out a statement voicing its support for Ellison’s latest bill, which it says gives investors back their right to choose whether they want to take their dispute to court or arbitration.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act granted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission the power to put a stop to mandatory arbitration. However, the SEC has yet to tackle the issue.

Our FINRA arbitration lawyers are here to help investors recoup their losses in claims against a broker or investment adviser. Contact our securities fraud law firm today.


FINRA Arbitration and Arbitrators
Nearly all customer claims against broker-dealers are resolved in FINRA arbitration. Each case is heard by a three-arbitrator panel. The parties decide who can be on the panel by eliminating candidates until there are three left. Parties are allowed to choose all-public panels.

The SEC has just approved a proposal by FINRA that would put limits on who can become a public arbitrator to be able to preside over such disputes. The rule categorizes anyone who has ever worked in the financial industry as an industry (or nonpublic) arbitrator.

Also, anyone who spent at least 20% of their time over the previous five years representing investors with securities claims would go from being a public arbitrator to a nonpublic one. They could go back into the public arbitrator category after a cooling off period of five years.

Anyone who has been a plaintiff’s lawyer for over 15 years is permanently barred from serving as a public arbitrator. Also disqualified as public arbitrator are accountants, lawyers, and others who worked for financial firms for over 20 years. If they worked for firms for less time, they could go back under the public arbitrator category five years after they stop working for them. In its regulatory order, the SEC said that it believes the proposed rule change would tackle any perceived bias toward Wall Street on the part of public arbitrators by moving certain individuals that fit the specific criteria into the nonpublic arbitrator category.

Bill would end mandatory arbitration in brokerage contracts, Investment News, February 26, 2015

Order Approving a Proposed Rule Change Relating to Revisions to the Definitions of Non-Public Arbitrator and Public Arbitrator, FINRA, February 26, 2015


More Blog Posts:
Investors Name Icon Investments in Securities Arbitration Claims, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 19, 2014

Ex-LPL Financial Adviser, James Bashaw from Texas, Lands at New Brokerage Firm, Stockbroker fraud Blog, October 30, 2014

Judge Temporarily Blocks Meredith Whitney Fund From Making Investor Payouts in the Wake of BlueCrest Capital Opportunities Lawsuit, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 27, 2015

February 9, 2015

John Carris Investments Expelled by FINRA

A FINRA panel has expelled John Carris Investments LLC, along with Chief Executive Officer George Carris from the securities industry. Bot are accused of suitability violations and fraud.

According to the panel, Carris and JCI were reckless when selling shares of stock and promissory notes. They purportedly left out material facts and used misleading statements. Both have been barred for manipulating Fibrocell’s stock price via the unfunded purchases of big stock blocks and engaging in trading that was pre-arranged through matched limit orders.

The FINRA panel said that JCI and Carris acted fraudulently when they did not reveal the poor financial state of parent company Invictus Capital yet sold the latter’s stock and notes. Material facts were purportedly left out of offering documents. Rather than shutting down operations when it ran out of net capital compliance, JCI kept selling Bridge Offering notes to investors and using money from the sales to remedy its net cap deficiency, all the while not telling customers that was were the money went. Offering sales were also used by Carris to cover his personal spending.

Carris and his firm are accused of keeping inaccurate records and books, not remitting payroll taxes for employees, failing to put into place anti-money laundering procedures and policies, and not setting up and enforcing a reasonable supervisory system.

Registered representative Andrew Tkatchenko was suspended for two years for recommending the stock and promissory notes without having reasonable grounds. Jason Barter, the head trader, received an 18-month suspension for his involvement. Both also must pay fines.

Contact our FINRA arbitration fraud lawyers today.

FINRA Hearing Panel Expels John Carris Investments and Bars CEO George Carris for Fraud, FINRA, January 14, 2015


More Blog Posts:
Oppenheimer to Pay $20M Settlement to the SEC and FinCEN Over Penny Stock Violations, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 28, 2015

Libor Manipulation Cases Get the Green Light from U.S. Courts, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 30, 2015

PFS Investments, Ex-Broker Under Investigation for Securities Fraud that Bilked At Least Twenty Customers, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015

PFS Investments, Ex-Broker Under Investigation for Securities Fraud that Bilked At Least Twenty Customers

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is accusing former broker Barkley Lundy, who worked with PFS Investments, of defrauding at least 20 customers. The self-regulatory organization claims that from at least 1/11 through 3/14, Lundy took these clients’ funds and placed the money in his own bank accounts. He also purportedly generated fake investments, issuing monthly payments to customers to conceal the securities fraud. FINRA says that Lundy violated FINRA Rule 2010 when he comingled customer monies.

The SRO said that Lundy kept a list of customers, setting up a payment schedule for them to receive monthly payments. PFS Investments was unaware of the payment schedule and the list. Lundy moved the money of a few of his customers from his account into their bank accounts and then moved the funds into their PFS accounts. He also worked it out so that these customers bought mutual fund shares that were customer-held. Lundy explained the fund movements as “dividend reinvestments.”

He gave one customer, per that client’s request, tax forms to track the monthly payments. FINRA, however, says that the documents were fabricated and contained falsified information. Meantime, Lundy made it appear as if PFS Investments not only provided the documents but also created them.

Without denying or admitting to the findings, Lundy has accepted and consented to the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent, as well as to a bar preventing him from associating with any FINRA member. Our stockbroker fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP are investigating investor claims involving PFS Investments and Barkley Lundy.

In addition to the customers that are part of the probe, Barkley may have acted improperly with other clients. Customers of Barkley should therefore carefully review their accounts. If you feel like you may have sustained unnecessary or inexplicable investment losses while working with Barkley or PFS Investments, contact our securities fraud law firm today.

Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LLP Investigating Claims Involving Barkley Lundy and PFS Investments, Inc., PR Newswire, January 27, 2015


More Blog Posts:
White House Looking At Whether Brokers Are Costing Workers Billions in Retirement Funds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 27, 2015

Former Canadian Broker’s Securities Fraud Conviction Involving U.S. Transactions is Upheld, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 23, 2015

FINRA Fines Fidelity $350K for Overcharging More than 20,000 Clients $2.4M, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 20, 2015

January 20, 2015

FINRA Fines Fidelity $350K for Overcharging More than 20,000 Clients $2.4M

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says that Fidelity Investments must pay $350,000 for overcharging thousands of clients $2.4 million for transactions involving fee-based accounts in its Institutional Wealth Services Group. The overcharges are said to have occurred from 1/06 to 9/13. The group offers brokerage and trading services to investment advisers and their clients.

According to the self-regulatory organization, the inappropriate charges happened because of a supervisory oversight involving the way that Fidelity applies fees under its asset-based pricing model. The model typically charges according to assets, not transactions.

FINRA says that until 2013, the financial firm did not have a designated supervisory principal to oversee the group’s asset-based pricing program. As a result, a number of clients may have been charged excess commissions beyond the asset-based management fee or were double billed.

Fidelity was the one that identified the issue in 2012 and notified FINRA. The firm also paid back all of the clients who were affected. According to a firm spokesperson, about 1.5% of brokerage accounts held for investment advisers were impacted, with most getting a reimbursement of under $100.

Fidelity settled FINRA’s claims without denying or admitting to the SRO’s findings.

In other Fidelity Investment news, the fund manager and eight others are getting ready to launch a dark pool. While Fidelity is leading the effort to set up the private trading venue that would benefit mutual fund shareholders, other money managers involved include J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), BlackRock Inc. (BLK), T-Rowe Price Group Inc. (TROW), and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNK).

The market—called Luminex—would allow in asset managers wanting to trade big share volumes at once.

Fidelity-backed group unveils ‘dark pool’ for big stock trades, The Boston Globe, January 20, 2015

Fidelity, other major fund managers to launch stocks dark pool, Reuters, January 19, 2015

Fidelity fined $350,000 in billing snafu, InvestmentNews, January 20, 2015


More Blog Posts:
Fidelity Investments Settles Class Action Lawsuits Over 401(K) Plan for $12 million, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 5, 2014

Investor Files Securities Case Against Fidelity Over Float Income Investments Involving 401(K)s, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 6, 2013

FINRA Orders Pershing to Pay $3M Fine for Customer Protection Rule Violations, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 7, 2015

January 7, 2015

FINRA Orders Pershing to Pay $3M Fine for Customer Protection Rule Violations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. says that Pershing, a Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) unit, must pay $3 million for violations involving the Customer Protection Rule. According to the self-regulatory organization, for about nine months between ’10 and ’11, the clearing firm did not put aside the money needed for a reserve account, per FINRA’s deposit requirements.

The SRO said that deficiencies, from $4 million to $220 million, came from Pershing’s “misinterpretation” of aspects of the rule, as well as inadequate supervision over the way the firm calculated what needed to be put in reserve. Also, over a certain time period, Pershing did not promptly get or keep up physical possession or control of certain customers’ margin securities. This resulted in nearly four dozen new control or possession deficits, while significantly raising the number of existing control or possession deficits.

The Customer Protection Rule mandates that brokerage firms maintain custody of customer cash and securities in order to comply with the following requirements: keep a cash reserve or qualified securities in a bank account that has at least the equivalent value of the net cash the broker-dealer owes customers, as well as obtain and keep up control or physical possession over customers’ excess and fully paid margin securities.

FINRA enforcement chief Brad Bennett said that because of Pershing’s purported failure to set up systems to “vet procedural changes” that could impact certain types of positions, customers’ assets were placed at risk. The SRO discovered the alleged deficiencies while conducting an examination on site in 2011. The firm has since improved its controls. While Pershing agreed to the sanctions it has not denied or admitted to the findings.

Contact our securities lawyers today if you suspect that your investment losses are because of securities fraud or related negligence.

FINRA Fines Pershing LLC $3 Million for Customer Protection Rule Violations and Supervisory Failures, FINRA, December 29, 2014

FINRA Rules, FINRA


More Blog Posts:

NASAA Wants Life Partners Held Accountable for Texas Securities Act Violations, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 28, 2014

Standard & Poor’s on the Verge of Civil Settlement Over Real-Estate Bond Ratings, Reports WSJ, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 29, 2014

Credit Suisse Ordered to Face $10B Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud Lawsuit by NY AG, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 26, 2014

January 6, 2015

FINRA Releases Priorities for 2015, Gets SEC Approval for Background Check Rule

The Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority proposal mandating that broker-dealers conduct more rigorous background checks on new hires. Per the new rule, brokerage firms must implement written procedures for confirming the completeness and accuracy of a broker’s registration data on a Form U4.

Firms will have to search “reasonably available public records” of both new hires and new registrants within 30 days of a U4’s submission to FINRA.

In other FINRA news, the self-regulatory organization has just released its exam and regulatory priorities for 2015. The regulator stated that the majority of compliance problems could be worked out if only broker-dealers always acted in their clients’ best interests. The statement was a significant one, considering that brokers are currently just obligated to make sure that they investments they recommend are suitable for clients.

Among the recurring challenges noted by the SRO:
• Failure to place customers’ interests first, including giving poor advice and recommending inappropriate investments.

• Firm cultures that put short-term profits or rapid growth over establishing the proper controls and creating an environment where high ethical standards are expected. FINRA recommends intolerance for both poor practices that may cause harm, as well as bad actors.

• A lack of strong supervision and inadequate risk management at certain firms

• Product complexity, opaque markets, poor sales training

• Conflicts of interest

FINRA’s Focus Areas in 2015 will include:
Sales practices, including requiring registered representatives and firms to conduct due diligence, make good suitability decisions, and explain products risks so that retail investors can understand them. FINRA is pressing firms to properly train registered representatives about product features, valuation, pricing, and suitability. It is also reminding them to stay abreast of changing market circumstances.

Interest-Rate Sensitive Fixed Income Securities: The SRO remains worried about how unusually low interest rates could possibly harm investors with products that may be easily impacted by said rates.

Variable Annuities: FINRA will evaluate compensation structures to see if there are any improper incentives for generating the sales of these instruments. The regulator is taking a focused interest in L share annuities, which come with higher costs and shorter surrender periods.

Alternative mutual funds: The SRO is worried that both customers and registered representatives do not fully understand how the funds will react to various market conditions.

Non-traded REITS: FINRA continues to be concerned about illiquidity, valuation difficulties, and high fees.
FINRA also will work with examiners and firms to make sure that its new supervision rules are implemented properly. FINRA Rules 3170, 3150, 3120, and 3110 went into effect at the start of December.

You can click here to see what else FINRA and its examiners are focusing on in 2015.

Our securities fraud law firm helps investors get their losses back. Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP today.

SEC approves Finra background check rule, InvestmentNews, January 5, 2015

More Blog Posts:
Beneficiaries of Puerto Rico Trust File Securities Fraud Lawsuit Seeking Over $4.5M From UBS Financial Services, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 5, 2015

Morgan Stanley Fires Wealth Management Group Employee For Stealing Client Data, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 5, 2015

NASAA Wants Life Partners Held Accountable for Texas Securities Act Violations, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 28, 2014

December 29, 2014

Financial Firm News: NH Regulator Fines Merrill Lynch $400K for Telemarketing Compliance Shortfalls, Court Orders Vasquez Global Investments to Pay More Than $1.3M for Commodity Pool Fraud, and FINRA Sanctions Monex Securities Inc.

New Hampshire Says Merrill Lynch Must Pay $400,000 For Not Complying with Telemarketing Rules

Bank of America (BAC) Merrill Lynch has consented to pay $400,000 to resolve claims made by the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation accusing the firm of improperly soliciting business when it called people who were on do-not-call lists and were not clients. As part of the deal, Merrill Lynch will improve its telemarketing procedures and policies. A spokesperson for the brokerage firm says it has already enhanced internal controls to avoid making inappropriate calls moving forward.

According to the regulator, not only did the broker-dealer fail to fully comprehend how to comply with the state’s rules for telemarketing but also the firm did not reasonably supervise its agents’ telemarketing activities in New Hampshire.


Vasquez Global Investments to Pay Over $1.3M For Bilking Participants in Commodity Pool
A federal judge has ordered Edwin Arden and his Vasquez Global Investments, LLC to pay over $1.3 million for running a commodity pool fraud. Per the order, issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, both Vasquez and VGI must pay over $330,000 in restitution and a monetary penalty of $994,668. They also must contend with permanent solicitation, trading, and registration bans. The order is the result of a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission complaint issued earlier this year charging both Vasquez and his firm with solicitation fraud, misappropriation, and making false statements related to the Vasquez pool, which is an unregistered commodity trading pool.

The court order states that beginning in August 2011, Vasquez bilked and deceived at least 19 participants that had collectively invested over 580K in the Vasquez pool. He purportedly told prospective participants that he had a successful track record as a trader and investing in the pool was not high risk.

The order said that of the money Vasquez solicited from participants, VGI lost $65,374 when trading commodity futures and misappropriated $331,556 by using the money to cover the company’s operating costs and Vasquez’s personal spending. Still, Vasquez purportedly chose not to disclose the misappropriation and trading losses and sent pool participants bogus statements about the value of their pool shares and their “profitability.”


Monex Securities Inc. Ordered by FINRA to Pay $1.3M Sanction for Inadequate Supervision
FINRA has sanctioned Monex Securities Inc. and is ordering the firm to pay $1.1 million in disgorgement of commissions and interest that foreign individuals who were not registered with the regulator obtained when selling the securities for the firm. The self-regulatory organization fined Monex $175,000 for not registering the individuals, as well as for related supervisory deficiencies that took place for more than two years.

FINRA said that Monex Chief Compliance Officer and President Jorge Martin Ramos Landero executed an agreement for the firm with its parent company in Mexico that allowed employees to conduct securities business for Monex. The individuals were paid compensation for their work, which included collecting client data for opening accounts, transmitting orders, and making investment recommendations. However, these persons were not registered with FINRA.

Under the regulator’s rules, an associated individuals who works in the securities business or investment banking has to be registered with the SRO under the right registration category. This person must also pass a qualification exam.

Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP is a securities fraud law firm.


Merrill to pay $400,000 over telemarketing compliance shortfall, Investment News, December 30, 2014

FINRA Sanctions Monex Securities Inc. $1.3 Million for Failing to Register and Supervise Foreign Personnel, FINRA, December 30, 2014

Federal Court Orders North Carolina Resident Edwin A. Vasquez and His Company, Vasquez Global Investments, LLC, to Pay over $1.3 Million for Commodity Pool Fraud, CFTC, December 30, 2014


More Blog Posts:
NASAA Wants Life Partners Held Accountable for Texas Securities Act Violations, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 28, 2014

OppenheimerFunds Increases Its Exposure to Puerto Rico Debt Despite Downgrade by Moody’s, S & P, and Fitch to Junk Status, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 14, 2014

Ex-Oppenheimer Fund Manager to Pay $100K To Settle Private Equity Fund Fraud Charges, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, January 25, 2014

December 23, 2014

FINRA Orders Wells Fargo Units to Pay $1.5M For Anti-Money Laundering-Related Lapses

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network (WFAFN) and Wells Fargo Advisors (WFA) to collectively pay $1.5M for anti-money laundering (AML) failures. According to the self-regulatory organization, the two brokerage firms did not comply with a main component of the anti-money laundering compliance program when it did not require some 220,000 new customer accounts to go through an identify verification process. The failures purportedly occurred from 2003 to 2012.

The AML compliance program mandates that brokerage firms set up and keep up a written Customer Identification Program that lets them confirm the identity of every customer setting up an account. The broker-dealer should use the CIP to get and verify a minimum amount of identifying data before opening a new customer account. The firms must also keep records of the verification process and let customers know that data is being gathered to confirm their identities.

FINRA said that the firms had a CIP system but it was deficient because of the electronic systems involved. Of the 220,000 new accounts that never had to undergo customer identify verification, some 120,000 of them were closed by the time the problem was identified.

By settling, Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Financial Advisors, which are both Wells Fargo units, are not denying or admitting to the charges. They are, however, consenting to the entry of findings.

In other Wells Fargo-related news, homeowners suing mortgage companies that belonged to Wachovia won a $54.8 million verdict in their class action securities case over excessive fees. Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in 2008.

The plaintiffs are borrowers with mortgages that were serviced or belonged to HomeEq serving or the lender, the now-defunct The Money Store. Homeowners have been trying to get back around $29 million for alleged excessive charges plus interest. Joseph Mazzei, the lead plaintiff claimed that both entities continued to charge late fees each month to borrowers even after mortgages went into default.

A jury said that the mortgage companies were liable for late fees. Wells Fargo never owned either The Money Store or Home Eq. Wells Fargo owned the latter, while the former, which belonged to First Union, later came under Wachovia’s fold.

FINRA Fines Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network $1.5 Million for Anti-Money Laundering Failures, FINRA, December 18, 2014

Wells Fargo faces payout after $54.8 mln loan fee verdict, Reuters, December 19, 2014


More Blog Posts:
FINRA Bars Ex-Wells Fargo Broker From Industry For Allegedly Bilking Customers, Expels HFP Capital Markets LLC for Securities Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 19, 2014

Wells Fargo Sued Over Allegedly Biased Lending in Chicago, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 28, 2014

Wells Fargo to Pay $5M Over Inadequate Controls, Altered Documents, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, October 21, 2014

December 16, 2014

FINRA Orders Merrill Lynch to Pay $2.4M in Fine, Restitution for Hundreds of Securities Transactions That Violated Fair Price Guidelines

FINRA is ordering Bank of America’s (BAC) Merrill Lynch to pay a $1.9M fine for violating fair price guidelines over seven hundred times during a two-year period. The financial firm also must pay restitution of over $540K to customers that were affected.

According to the self-regulatory organization, Merrill’s credit trading desk purchased MLC notes from retail customers at up to 61.5% under the market price. General Motors had issued the notes prior to its bankruptcy. MLC Notes stands for Motors Liquidation Company Senior Notes.

Out of 716 transactions, 510 of them involved notes bought at markdowns that were greater than 10%. The desk would then sell the notes to brokers at market cost.

Issuing a statement, FINRA EVP and market regulation head Thomas Gira said that the SRO expects firms to abide by their duties to customers in regards to fair pricing. Gira said Merrill Lynch’s markdowns of the MLC Notes were not acceptable.

FINRA says the firm lacked a proper supervisory system that could identify this kind of violation. It is accusing the firm of failing to perform assessments of the credit desk after trades were made.

Merrill Lynch is settling without denying or admitting to the securities charges. It has, however, consented to an entry of the regulator’s findings.

As part of the agreement, over the next year and a half, Merrill Lynch will provide reports related to the credit desk’s supervisory system and its effectiveness. The firm says that it has since enhanced its supervisory efforts and taken disciplinary action.

FINRA Fines Merrill Lynch $1.9 Million and Orders Restitution of $540,000 for Fair Pricing and Supervisory Violations Related to Purchases of Distressed Securities, FINRA, December 16, 2014

Reliance Financial Advisors, Owners Face SEC Fraud Charges Involving Hedge Fund, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 15, 2015

Morgan Stanley Fined $4M by the SEC for Market Access Rule Violation, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 12, 2014

Madoff Ponzi Scam Victims Recover Over $10 Billion, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 5, 2014

December 5, 2014

CFTC, FINRA, and SEC Fight Investor Fraud Together

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has launched CFTC SmartCheck. The site gives consumers information about financial fraud. It links to The Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR product registration database and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck system, as well as to the National Futures Association. For the first time the three regulators are joining forces to combat investor fraud. The site makes checking the backgrounds of brokers and investment advisers more localized.

This year, the CFTC spent around $4.2 million in consumer protection and has an even bigger budget for next year. Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFTC was given authority to establish a consumer protection fund that covers whistleblower office and education initiatives.

Last month, the North American Securities Administrators Association announced that in 2013 state securities regulators increased the number of formal enforcement actions they initiated against licensed broker-dealer sales representatives, as well as firms and individuals that didn’t have a license. The states reported 810 actions against unlicensed firms or individuals, which is 34% more than the year before. There was an 89% rise in actions against (357) licensed broker-dealer agents between the same time period.

Also, between ’12 and ’13:

• Enforcement actions against licensed investment adviser representatives went up 11% to 176 from 158.

• The number of enforcement actions against investment adviser firms went down 4% from 174 to 181.

While efforts by regulators to combat fraud is important, if you are an investor that has sustained losses from securities fraud committed by a registered or unregistered financial firm or representative, your best chances of recovering your funds is to work with an experience securities lawyer.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission teams up with SEC and Finra to combat investor fraud, Investment News, November 19, 2014

CFTC SmartCheck

EDGAR

NASAA Enforcement Report (PDF)

FINRA BrokerCheck

National Futures Association


More Blog Posts:
Judge Orders Texas-Based Life Partners Holdings Inc., Two Executives to Pay $46.9M Over Securities Filings, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 3, 2014

Madoff Ponzi Scam Victims Recover Over $10 Billion, Institutional Investor Fraud Blog, December 5, 2014

SEC Files Charges Against Former Broker-Dealer Owner Over Fraudulent Stock Sales, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 2, 2014

November 11, 2014

Survey by FINRA Shows Investors Want More Regulatory Protections

According to a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority-released survey of investors, 92% of participants believe that there needs to be a regulatory “cop” to protect investors. 94% said that regulators should use the latest technology and tools on the job. The survey is intended to evaluate how investors feel about regulatory protections.

1,000 investors participated in the survey. Overall, said the self-regulatory organization, investors were in strong agreement that regulation and investor protections are key. The majority of investors also said that it is important that regulators detect when customers are sold unsuitable securities, if brokers are making trades to their benefit rather than that of investors, and when firms are taking risks that could hurt customers. 74% of those surveyed said they are in support of additional regulatory protections against broker misconduct.

The Survey was conducted over several days last month. Respondents came from a nationally distributed online panel. They had to meet certain criteria: U.S. citizen, at least 21 years of age, with primary or shared responsibility in their home for investment choices, and at least $10,000 in securities investments.

According to InvestmentNews, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White is preparing to disclose what she thinks is the best way for the regulator to enhance investment-advice standards for brokers. At the yearly Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association meeting this week, White said that the SEC has not yet decided on whether to enhance the standard of care.

It’s been over four years now that the SEC has been debating on whether to propose a rule that would create a uniform fiduciary duty for retail investment advice. Such a rule would obligate brokers to act in their clients’ best interests—much like the fiduciary duty of investment advisers to their clients.

The Dodd-Frank Act gave the Commission the authority to put forth new regulation about fiduciary duty. The opposition by two of its commission members to such a rule is just one of the reasons the regulator has not yet acted on this authority. There are five members on the SEC Commission.

Meantime, SIFMA, at the same conference where White spoke, has voiced its opposition to the re-release of a proposed Department of Labor regulation that would extend fiduciary duties to advisers who sell individual retirement accounts. The DOL has said the rule would protect investors from advisers that had conflicts of interest.

However, ex-SIFMA chairman Jim Rosenthal said that the rule would only let IRAs be held in managed accounts that charge investors fees according to assets under management, while curtailing having them offered in brokerage accounts that charge investors on a per trade transaction basis. He believes this will keep brokers from servicing accounts that are small.

Our broker fraud lawyers and investment adviser fraud attorneys are her to help investors recoup their financial losses.


FINRA Investor Survey Reveals Strong Support for Additional Regulatory Protections, FINRA, November 6, 2014

The Survey (PDF)

SEC Chair Mary Jo White close to revealing her position on fiduciary duty, Investment News, November 10, 2014

U.S. Department of Labor

More Blog Posts:
SEC Files Charges in Massachusetts Pump-And-Dump Scam, International Microcap Fraud, and Issues Investor Alert, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 7, 2014


BlackRock Buys Part of UBS Puerto Rico’s Mutual Fund Operations, Say Sources, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 4, 2014

Detroit Suburb Charged with Muni Bond Fraud, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 6, 2014

November 10, 2014

Two Former Merrill Lynch Brokers Contend with Unauthorized Trading Claims

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Ameriprise Financial (AMP) broker Lorene Fairbanks, formerly with Merrill Lynch. Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, was recently sanctioned over allegations that she effected over 57 discretionary transactions for several customers without getting the required written authorization from the clients or the approval of the firm. Fairbanks also allegedly mismarked over 50 order tickets, noting them as “unsolicited” when they were “solicited” orders. Brokers are not allowed to exercise discretionary authority in a client account without written authorization.

The Ohio broker was registered with Merrill Lynch from 8/06 to 3/12. The firm fired Fairbanks in February 2012 for purportedly taking discretion in client accounts and mismarking customer orders. She has been associated with Ameriprise since June 2012. There also have reportedly been other customer complaints accusing Fairbanks of excessive trading and unsuitable trading.

Also sanctioned by FINRA for allegations of unauthorized trading is George Zaki, another ex-Merrill Lynch broker. The self-regulatory organization contends that Zaki implemented or executed about 3,600 trades in some 80 accounts without written customer authorization between 6/10 and 8/12.

Zaki was let go by Merrill Lynch in October 2012. The firm said the termination was because of conduct related to exercising discretion in client accounts that were not discretionary. FINRA rules prohibits a registered representative from exercising discretionary power in the account of a customer without that client’s prior written permission and firm acceptance of the account.

After Zaki was terminated from Merrill Lynch, he was registered with Barclays (BARC) Capital Inc. until earlier this year.

Our broker fraud lawyers represent investors in the U.S., as well as those headquartered abroad with claims against brokerage firms in the country.

BrokerCheck, FINRA


More Blog Posts:
FINRA May Expel Ex-Broker For $6M Hedge Fund, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 15, 2014

SEC Stops Fraudulent Bond Offering by Chicago Suburb, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 25, 2014

AIG Advisor Group, Securities America, LPL Financial, Cambridge, And Even Schorsch’s Broker-Dealer Stops Selling His REITs, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 7, 2014

October 6, 2014

FINRA Bars Former Raymond James Adviser for Elder Financial Fraud, Charges SWS Over Variable Annuity Supervision

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.

Raymond James, which terminated Fisher's registration earlier this year, is cooperating with investigators. The financial firm has filed its own action against her in federal court to get back the money she purportedly took. Raymond James has already paid back the investor.

In other FINRA-related news, the SRO is charging SWS Financial Services with approving variable annuity applications without conducting principal review to make sure they were suitable. The agency’s enforcement department claims that from 9/09 to 5/11 the firm did not have the required supervisory systems and written procedures in place for VA transactions.

SWS is accused of not conducting adequate supervisory reviews of variable annuity deals, failing to register principal reviews of VAs prior to turning the applications over to the insurer, not setting up and documenting a training plan for supervisory review of VA deals, and failing to establish surveillance procedures that could identify VA exchanges that were not appropriate.

FINRA says that during the time of these violations, variable annuity sales comprised up to 20% of the firm’s total revenue. It wants disciplinary action, including monetary sanctions, as well as an order mandating that SWS pay for the proceeding costs.

Finra Bars Ex-Raymond James Adviser Over Alleged Account Theft, The Wall Street Journal, October 3, 2014

Finra charges SWS with improper supervision of VA transactions, Investment News, October 2, 2014


More Blog Posts:

Former Axa Advisors Broker Faces SEC Charges Over Alleged $1.5M Ponzi Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 30, 2014

DOJ’s Fund for Madoff Victims Has Received 51,700 Claims Worth $40B, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 14, 2014

Resource Horizons Group’s Future Hangs in Balance Following $4M FINRA Arbitration Award, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 25, 2014

September 29, 2014

SEC Approves FINRA Arbitration Fees, SRO Proposes Rule For CARDS

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. proposal to up the pay for arbitrators. The rule change will increase how much it will cost to file securities arbitration claims, as well as processing fees, surcharge, and hearing session fees for bigger cases.

The changes would only impact claims involving over $250,000, with fees per hearing session going up by $100 to $300 depending on how big the claim. Filing fees would go up 10% to 25%, again depending on the claim’s size.

FINRA has not upped its fees since 1999. Under the proposed rule, arbitrators of these larger cases would get paid $300 for every hearing session, while the chairman would get another $125 a day. With the proposal, the self-regulatory organization would be bringing in $4 million to $5.6 million annually.

For the most part, the securities industry has supported the proposal, which should hopefully improve the quality of the arbitration process at FINRA. The regulator said arbitrators have regularly complained about how much they were paid, even skipping or postponing their duties when other opportunities that paid more arose. The SRO is hoping the new fees will enhance its arbitration recruiting efforts.

Also, FINRA has just issued new guidelines for a proposed computerized method to keep track of transactions and balances in brokerage accounts. The system, known as CARDS, for the Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System, is supposed to allow the regulator to identify and quickly deal with suspect activity and high-risk areas that it can’t easily detect under its current programs for examination and surveillance.

CARDS would go into effect via two stages. The first one would mandate that clearing and carrying firms periodically turn in automated, standardized data about their records and books related to securities accounts, including those that they clear. Stage two would require fully disclosed introducing firms to turn in specific data elements that are account profile-related to FINRA. Customers’ personally identifiable information would not be included among this information.

CARDS will ultimately speed up the detection process via automation. With this system, the regulator hopes to be able to run computerized analytic checks at the over 4,000 broker-dealers it oversees. Some have expressed worry that CARDS and similar systems could make it easy for data thieves to access information about what investors are holding.

Commentators have until December 1 to chime in. The CARDS proposal is an update of an initial proposal that FINRA put out last year.

The regulator says that CARDS will cost between $8 million to $12 million over three years to develop its systems and technology. Costs to certain brokers to develop the system could run from $390K to $8.33 million. Brokers had expressed worry that the new system could be too expensive for them.

SEC signs off on Finra arbitration fee increases, Investment News, September 30, 2014

FINRA Solicits Comment on Proposed Rule to Implement CARDS, FINRA, September 30, 2014


MORE BLOG POSTS:
SEC News: Regulator to Review Rule Change on New Hire Background Checks, Prepares Mutual Fund Regulations, and is Defendant of Oxfam America Lawsuit, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, September 20, 2014

FINRA Bars Ex-Wells Fargo Broker From Industry For Allegedly Bilking Customers, Expels HFP Capital Markets LLC for Securities Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 19, 2014

FINRA Fines Minneapolis Broker-Dealer $1M for Inadequate Supervision of Penny Stocks, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 13, 2014

September 19, 2014

FINRA Bars Ex-Wells Fargo Broker From Industry For Allegedly Bilking Customers, Expels HFP Capital Markets LLC for Securities Fraud

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred a former Wells Fargo (WFC) registered representative from the brokerage industry. According to the self-regulatory organization, Ane S. Plate, who previously worked with Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network in Florida, allegedly made fifteen unauthorized trades in a joint brokerage account of two customers between October 2013 and April 2014. The transactions resulted in $176,080 of cash proceeds, of which Plate is accused of pocketing $132,358.

The former Wells Fargo broker is also accused of setting up bi-weekly transfers from the brokerage account to a bank account that was in the name of one of her relatives. She then allegedly moved $7,700 to that account between December 2013 and May 2014.

Plate, who was working with Wachovia Securities when Wells Fargo acquired that firm, has since been fired after the latter discovered the purported theft. FINRA’s BrokerCheck reports that the customers that were harmed were fully reimbursed for the amount taken from them.

Plate, who settled the FINRA charges, is not denying or admitting to the allegations. She has, however, consented to an entry of the regulator’s findings.

FINRA also recently expelled a financial firm from FINRA membership, this for the purportedly fraudulent sale of about $3 million of senior secured zero-coupon notes. HFP Capital Markets LLC will now have to pay $2,980,000 plus interest in customer restitution.

The financial firm is accused of selling private offerings of the notes to customers while knowingly leaving out or misrepresenting material facts in the offering and sales. The SRO says the notes were misrepresented as collateralized by certain barrels of leftover mining materials that were valuable enough to secure an investment, when the ore concentrate was actually worthless.

FINRA is also accusing HFP Capital Markets of not disclosing material facts about the management and ownership of the issuer and about the way the proceeds from the offering were utilized. The firm also purportedly disregarded red flags and did not conduct sufficient due diligence on the individuals involved, the offering, or the third parties that were presented as critical strategic partners.

Some customers recovered their money in the form of replacement transactions after complaining to the firm, but everyone else lost their funds. Now, HFP Capital Markets is settling without denying or admitting to the findings.

FINRA also recently censured Felix Investments LLC, which is based in New Jersey, for sending misleading, unwarranted, and exaggerated claims or statements to potential investors of a fund via email. The communications purportedly did not note the possible risks or provide comprehensive descriptions of the fund.

Now, Felix Investments has to submit all retail communications, per FINRA Rule 2210’s definition, with the agency at least 10 days before use and pay a $300,000 fine. The firm’s principal, Susan Mindlin Diamond, must pay a $10,000 fine and serve a four-month suspension. Meantime financial representative Frank Gregory Mazzola, who is accused of sending the emails, is barred from associating with any FINRA member.

Other FINRA findings against Felix Investments and Diamond include inadequate supervision of Mazzola, even after an AWC was put out against him, and failure to put into place a written anti-money laundering program to keep Felix in compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and other regulations.

Felix Investments, Mazzola, and Diamond settled with FINRA without denying or admitting to the findings.

Former Wells Fargo Advisor Barred From Brokerage Industry, Bank Investment Consultant

FINRA Enforcement: HFP Capital Markets Expelled From FINRA for Note Fraud, ThinkAdvisor, September 5, 2014

FINRA


More Blog Posts:
FINRA Fines Minneapolis Broker-Dealer $1M for Inadequate Supervision of Penny Stocks, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 13, 2014

Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup Sued by Pimco and Blackrock Over Trustee Roles Involving Mortgage Bonds, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 3, 2014

FINRA Headlines: SRO Considers Revised Broker Bonus Plan, To Discuss Potential Dark Pool Rules, May Instigate Civil Action Against Wells Fargo, &Warns Investors About Frontier Markets, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, September 12, 2014

September 13, 2014

FINRA Fines Minneapolis Broker-Dealer $1M for Inadequate Supervision of Penny Stocks

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has issued an enforcement action charging Feltl & Company for not notifying certain customers of the suitability and risks involving certain penny-stock transactions, as well as for failing to issue customer account statements showing each penny stock’s market value. The brokerage firm is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

FINRA claims that the firm failed to properly document transactions for securities that temporarily may not have fulfilled the definition of a penny stock and did not properly track penny-stock transactions involving securities that didn’t make a market.

Feltl made a market in nearly twenty penny stocks. The brokerage firm made $2.1 million from at least 2,450 customer transactions that were solicited in 15 penny stocks between 2008 and 2012. The SRO says it isn’t clear how much the firm made from selling penny stocks that it didn’t keep track of but that revenue from this would have been substantial.

Felt is settling the securities charges without denying or admitting to the claims. It said that after February 2012 it stopped recommending penny stocks and now doesn’t make a market in any penny stock. Customers, however, can trade in penny stocks if they are the ones that initiate the transaction.

Penny Stocks
These securities trade under $5 a share. Small companies that have low revenue are the ones that usually put them out. Penny stocks may be high risk because it can be hard to track the companies’ future value and business potential and these stocks don’t trade as often as liquid stocks that are traded on exchanges. Penny stocks are not a suitable investment for everyone.

Our penny stock fraud lawyers represent investors wanting to recoup their losses. Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP today.

Finra Fines Brokerage $1M Over Penny-Stock Deals, WSJ, September 3, 2014

Penny Stock Rules, SEC.gov


More Blog Posts:
SEC Files Charges in Penny Stock Scams, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, May 27, 2014

SEC Files Charges in $4.5M Houston-Based Pump-and-Dump Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 18, 2014

Securities Lawsuit Accuses Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, and Other Banks of Manipulating ISDAfix, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, September 4, 2014

August 27, 2014

Citigroup Global Markets Fined $1.85M By FINRA, Must Pay $638K Restitution Over Non-Convertible Preferred Securities Transaction Valuations

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says that Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (C) will pay a fine of $1.85 million for not providing best execution in about 22,000 customer transactions of non-convertible preferred securities, as well as for supervisory deficiencies that went on for over three years. Affected customers are to get over $638,000 plus interest.

A firm and its registered persons have to exercise reasonable diligence to make sure that the sale/buying price the customer pays is the most favorable one under market conditions at that time. FINRA says that instead a Citigroup trading desk used a pricing methodology for the securities that failed to properly factor in the securities’ National Best Bid and Offer. Because of this, contends the self-regulatory organization, over 14,800 customer transactions were priced inferior to the NBBO. The SRO also claims that because Citigroup’s BondsDirect system for order execution used a faulty pricing logic, over 7,200 customers transactions were priced at less than NBBO.

FINRA says that Citigroup’s written supervisory procedures and supervisory system related to best execution in these securities were lacking. It claims that the firm did not review customer transactions for the securities at issue, which were either executed manually by the trading desk or on BondsDirect. Such an assessment could have ensured compliance with Citigroup’s best execution duties. (FINRA noted that it had sent the firm inquiry letters about the reviews.)

Citigroup is consenting to the entry of the SRO’s findings. It isn’t, however, denying or agreeing with FINRA’s claims.

FINRA Fines Citigroup Global Markets Inc. $1.85 Million and Orders Restitution of $638,000 for Best Execution and Supervisory Violations in Non-Convertible Preferred Securities Transactions, FINRA, August 26, 2014

Citigroup to Pay $2.5 Million for Pricing Flaws of Markets Unit, The Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2014


More Blog Posts:
Citigroup’s LavaFlow to Pay $5M to SEC For Not Protecting Subscriber Data in ATS, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 28, 2014

Judge Rakoff Approves Citigroup’s $285M Mortgage Securities Fraud Deal with the SEC, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 5, 2014

Citigroup Settles Mortgage-Backed Securities Probe with DOJ for $7 Billion, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, July 14, 2014