August 20, 2016

CFTC and FINRA File Charges Against Deutsche Bank Over Swap Data and Information Transmitted Over Squawk Boxes

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed a civil case against Deutsche Bank AG (DB). According to the regulator, for five days the firm, which is a provisionally registered Swap Dealer, did not report any swap data for a number of asset classes, turned in untimely and unfinished swap information, failed to supervise the staff responsible for the reporting of the swap data, and had an inadequate Business and Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan.

The bank’s swap data reporting system had suffered a System Outage. The CFTC said that the swap data reported prior to and after the outage showed that there had been ongoing problems with specific data fields and their integrity. As a result, the market data issued to the public was affected. Some of it purportedly continues to be affected to this day. The CFTC said that a reason for the System Outage and the reporting problems is that Deutsche Bank lacked an adequate Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan or another supervisory system that was equally satisfactory.

Earlier this month, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Deutsche Bank $12.5M for substantive supervisory failures involving trading-related information and research that the firm had issued to employees over internal speakers, also referred to as squawk boxes. The self-regulatory organization said that even though there were red flags related to this matter, Deutsche Bank neglected to set up supervision that was adequate over both the access that registered representatives had to the “squawk,” or “hoots,” which is the information issue through the squawk boxes, and the communication of this data to customers.

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July 16, 2016

AOG Wealth Management President Ordered to Pay Couple $331K for Private Placement Investments

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Arbitration Panel is ordering AOG Wealth Management chief executive and president Frederick Baerenz to pay Roger and Barbara Bond $331K in compensatory damages. The panel found Baerenz liable for unsuitable trading because he allegedly misled the Bonds about the risks involved in the direct private placements they invested in from ’06 to ’09. At the time, Baerenz was affiliated with Pacific West Securities.

The Bonds invested about $941K in private placements. Their legal team contends that these were not suitable investments for them.


Private Placements
Private placements are offerings of a company’s securities that are not registered with the SEC. They are not offered to the general public.

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June 30, 2016

Financial Representative News: Ex-LPL Financial Broker Gets Suspension and Fine & Former Ex-GL Capital Partners CEO is Sentenced to Prison

Ex-LPL Financial Supervisor Settles with FINRA
Peter Neuberg, a former LPL Financial (LPLA) supervisor and broker, will pay a $15K fine and serve a six-month suspension to settle claims accusing him of not reasonably supervising a registered representative. According to an enforcement document signed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Neuberg stopped looking at paperwork that the representative prepared. This made it possible for the broker to modify documents about customer accounts and reuse signatures from forms that had been completed. Neuberg is settling without admitting or denying FINRA’s findings.

The purported supervisory failures would have taken place from September ’11 to June ’12. The broker, whom Neuberg supervised, falsified documents to expedite transactions to accommodate certain customers. Neuberg is accused of not properly training the broker.

Ex-GL Capital Partners CEO Gets Nine Years in Prison
In other news, Daniel Thibeault, the former CEO of GL Capital Partners, is sentenced to nine years behind bars for misappropriating at least $15M. He must pay $15.3M in restitution for the criminal charges. He also is contending with civil charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Continue reading "Financial Representative News: Ex-LPL Financial Broker Gets Suspension and Fine & Former Ex-GL Capital Partners CEO is Sentenced to Prison" »

June 28, 2016

FINRA Accuses Broker of Encouraging Clients to Invest in High-Risk Exchange-Traded Funds Because He Anticipated Financial Turmoil

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has filed a case against Richard William Lunn Martin, a former broker. According to the self-regulatory organization, from at least 3/11 through 7/15, and while he was a GF Investment services broker, Martin encouraged clients to invest in high-risk non-traditional exchange-traded funds so he could hedge against what he anticipated would be a pending financial crisis. Martin purportedly believed that the financial and monetary system was going to fail. FINRA said that he lost customers $8M as a result of the bad investment advice he gave them.

Because of his fears, said FINRA, Martin recommend that clients put their money in inverse and leveraged funds, which are typically not suitable for retail investors. This is especially true when the market is volatile and the investor intends to hold the funds for longer than one trading session. Examples of recommendations that he made:

· Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bear 2x Shares (DUST)

· Proshares UltraPro Short Russe112000 (SRTY)

· Proshares UltraPro Short QQQ (SQQQ)


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June 16, 2016

Securities Headlines: FINRA Enforcement Officials Say They Are Keeping Their Eyes on Variable Annuities, Massachusetts Goes Looking for Rogue Brokers, and Man is Accused of Scamming Women He Met Online

FINRA Takes a Closer Look at Variable Annuities
At a recent Insured Retirement Institute Conference, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. enforcement officials said that even though variable annuities are not on the regulator’s list of examination priorities for 2016 this doesn’t mean it isn’t scrutinizing them. FINRA Sr. VP/deputy enforcement chief Russ Ryan said that variable annuities often are involved in its cases.

It was just recently that FINRA charged MetLife (MET) $25M for making misrepresentations and omissions related to variable annuity sales. New products were marketed as less costly and better than the variable annuities that clients already owned when, in truth, said the regulator, the clients should have stayed with these older investments. The alleged misrepresentations and omissions were found in 72% of 35,500 applications for variable annuity replacements that were approved by MetLife.

FINRA said that training and supervision were a key factor in the case, which is what they are also seeing in other variable annuity cases. The regulator is also looking at L-share variable annuities, which offer greater liquidity and a shorter surrender-penalty period.

With a variable annuity contract, an insurer consents to pay the investor periodic payments either right away or in the future. The investor buys the contract with a single payment or a series of payments. The VA’s value will depend on performance and the investment options selected by the investor.


Massachusetts Targets Rogue Brokers
The Massachusetts Securities Division is going after rogue brokers. The regulator sent a letter to more than 240 firms that have a higher than average number of reps who have been reported for misconduct. The state says it wants the firms’ hiring information and is interested in learning about brokerage firms' hiring procedures and policies. The letter was issued to financial firms where over 15% of their current representatives have at least one current disclosure incident documented.

Continue reading "Securities Headlines: FINRA Enforcement Officials Say They Are Keeping Their Eyes on Variable Annuities, Massachusetts Goes Looking for Rogue Brokers, and Man is Accused of Scamming Women He Met Online" »

June 8, 2016

Morgan Stanley and E*Trade Securities Face Penalties for Inadequate Customer Information Protection

The Securities and Exchange Commission says that Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (MS) will pay a $1M penalty to resolve charges involving its purported failure to protect customer data. Some of this information was hacked and violators attempted to sell the data online.

According to the regulator, the firm did not put into place written policies and procedures that were designed in a manner reasonable enough to protect customer information. Because of this, said the SEC, from ’11 to ’14, former Morgan Stanley employee Galen J. Marsh was able to access without permission information regarding approximately 730,000 accounts and move them to his own server. This made it possible for third parties to access and hack the information from there.

The Commission said that Morgan Stanley had two internal portals that made it possible for employees such as Marsh to access confidential customer account information and it was for these internal applications that the firm lacked the needed authorization modules that would have restricted which employees could see this information. This deficiency existed for over a decade.

It was just last week that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that it was censuring and fining E*Trade Securities LLC for supervisory violations related to customer order information protection and for not performing sufficient review of the quality of customer order executions. As a firm that offers online services for securities investing and trading to retail customers, E*Trade is supposed to evaluate the competing markets that it routes customer orders to, including exchange and non-exchange market centers. Firms such as E*Trade are also supposed to conduct periodic and stringent reviews of the quality of customer order executions to see if there are any differences among the markets, which is why the firm set up a Best Execution Committee to do this job.

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June 3, 2016

Securities Cases: Stephens Inc. to Pay $900K Fine, FINRA Bans Ex-Wells Fargo Broker, And Former State Street Executive is Accused of Charging Hidden Fees

SEC Files Fraud Charges Against Former State Street Executive
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is filing fraud charges against ex-State Street Corp. (STT) executive Ross McClellan. According to the regulator, McLellan was one of a number of people who purposely charged hidden markups on certain transactions to customers, making the bank $20M in extra revenue.

Addressing the charges, McLellan’s lawyer claims that his client did not commit any securities law violations and that all banks charge client markups on bond transactions to make money. The attorney also noted that it was State Street and not the bank that profited from the charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged McLellan with securities fraud, conspiracy, and wire fraud.

Ex-Wells Fargo Broker to Be Barred
Christopher John Pierce, a former Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) broker, will be barred from working with any FINRA-registered firm and associating with any member of the self-regulatory organization. Pierce agreed to the bar after he was accused of stealing money from the accounts of banking customers.

Continue reading "Securities Cases: Stephens Inc. to Pay $900K Fine, FINRA Bans Ex-Wells Fargo Broker, And Former State Street Executive is Accused of Charging Hidden Fees" »

May 26, 2016

FINRA Approves Wider Public Arbitrator List, Proposes Rule Change, and is Accused by Lawmakers of Not Doing Enough to Protect Investors From Bad Advisers

The Financial Industry Regulatory authority has broadened its list of public arbitrators to preside over cases. The self-regulatory organization will provide dispute participants with the names of 15 public arbitrators, instead of 10, from which to choose. FINRA’s Board also modified its eligibility requirements for who can chair an arbitration panel.

FINRA allows plaintiffs and defendants of arbitration cases to choose three arbitrators.

In other FINRA arbitration news, the SRO is asking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to approve a proposed rule change that would allow monetary awards mandating that parties pay one another damages to be offset. This rule change is for situations in which an arbitration panel awards damages to both the respondent and claimant and one party can’t or doesn’t pay what it owes.

If approved, the rule would allow the party that owes more money to only have to pay the net difference. If arbitrators don’t mean for an award to be offset when both parties owe one another money, they must state so in the award notice.

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May 23, 2016

Emotions Make Older Investors More Vulnerable to Fraud, Says FINRA/Stanford/AARP Study

According to research, some financial fraudsters may try to manipulate investors by getting them to feel strong emotions so that they will hand over their money, and older investors are the ones who most vulnerable to this type of manipulation. Research was conducted and funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the AARP Fraud Watch Network, and Stanford University psychologists. They said that inducing certain emotions in older individuals may make them more likely to purchase items that were falsely advertised.

The team studied adults in the 65- 85 age group and adults in the 30-40 age group. They sought to find out whether inciting anger or excitement in either demographic made them more susceptible to fraud.

According to their findings, feeling excitement or anger enhanced an older investor’s desire to buy in investment item as opposed to when there was no emotional arousal. Furthermore, the emotional state felt by an older adult did not have to be positive or negative for him/her to become more vulnerable to fraud. As AARP Fraud Watch Network Dr. Shadel stated, whether a fraudster is trying to get an older investor excited about making a lot of money or angry about past or future financial losses, either approach, when used to get them to make a purchase, proved just as impactful. The elderly investor's rational thinking becomes suspended in the process.

The research found that in younger adults, experiencing strong feelings of excitement or anger did not appear to be a factor in whether or not they would make a purchase. This suggests that heightened feelings do not increase the younger group’s susceptibility to fraud.

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May 5, 2016

MetLife Securities Ordered to Pay $25M FINRA Sanction Related to Variable Annuities

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that MetLife Securities Inc. (MSI) would pay a $20M fine as well as $5M to customers for negligent and material misrepresentations that it purportedly made related to variable annuity replacement applications. According to the self-regulatory organization, these alleged omissions and misrepresentations were on tens of thousands of applications, and they made each replacement variable annuity seem of greater benefit to the customer despite the fact that the variable annuities that were recommended were usually more costly than the ones that the customers already owned. MetLife Securities made at least $152M in gross dealer commissions over six years through its variable annuity replacement business.

Based on a sample of transactions that were randomly examined, FINRA said that from ’09 through ’14, MetLife Securities omitted or misrepresented at least one material fact connected to the guarantees and costs of existing variable annuity contracts in 72% of the 35,500 replacement applications that it approved. Among the alleged misrepresentations:

· Existing variable were costing customers more than the variable annuities they were recommending, when the opposite was true.

· Customers were not told that the variable annuity replacements promised to them would lessen or get rid of key features that their current variable annuity possessed.

· In disclosures, the value of customers’ existing death benefits was understated.

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April 27, 2016

Broker News: J.P. Morgan Firms to Pay $1M Fine, FINRA Bans Broker For Money Laundering, and Former Maine Broker Gets 3-Years in Prison for Fraud

Two J.P. Morgan Firms Fined over Deficiencies
J.P. Morgan Securities and J.P. Morgan Clearing Corp. have been fined $775K and $250K respectively for several deficiencies. J.P. Morgan Securities is a broker-dealer of the bank JPMorgan Chase (JPM). .J.P. Morgan Clearing is the custodian, clearing, lending, and settlement arm of the bank. The fines were imposed by FINRA.

According to the self-regulatory organization, the firms committed a number of breaches that violated FINRA and SEC rules. The alleged violations by the brokerage firm mostly affect clients of J.P. Morgan Private Bank and JPMS Heritage Private Client Services, which are two JPMS Global Wealth Management businesses.

From 9/07 to 2014, JPMS purportedly did not send letters to clients confirming modifications to their investment goals within 30 days of the changes. JPMS also allegedly did not collect and check the outside brokerage account statements of nearly 2,000 representatives from ’12 – ’13. Morgan Clearing Corp. is accused of, from ’11-’13, not sending out yearly privacy notices to hundreds of thousands of account holders at the broker-dealers where it provides clearing and custody.


Broker Banned by FINRA for Money Laundering
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that it is barring James Van Doren. The broker was sentenced to 15 months behind bars for a money laundering scam.

According to FINRA, Van Doren took part in unethical behavior by helping to make it possible for a childhood friend and business associate to avoid certain legal duties. The former broker invested in a number of real estate deals with the friend’s company and helped conceal assets when the company couldn’t fulfill its duties.

He also accepted $244K from the friend to hide the assets that his creditors were looking for. He eventually returned most of the funds to the friend while keeping some for financial losses he sustained.

Continue reading "Broker News: J.P. Morgan Firms to Pay $1M Fine, FINRA Bans Broker For Money Laundering, and Former Maine Broker Gets 3-Years in Prison for Fraud " »

April 26, 2016

Judge Dismisses Scottsdale Capital Advisor’s Lawsuit Challenging FINRA’s Enforcement Authority

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has dismissed Scottsdale Capital Advisors’ securities case claiming that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority did not have legal authority to enforce securities laws. The self-regulatory organization had filed an administrative case against the financial firm, accusing it of selling unregistered penny stock shares.

In March, Scottsdale filed its complaint, contending that the claims brought by the regulator came out of violations of the Securities Act of 1933, which it believes that the Securities and Exchange Commission, and not FINRA, has purview over when it comes to enforcing it the act. However, Scottsdale also said that both the SEC and FINRA did not have the “realm of expertise” to make a ruling in the SRO’s case against it.

Judge Chasanow dismissed Scottsdale’s lawsuit citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction. She said that the allegations brought by FINRA as they pertain to the penny stock trades should not be in heard in federal court.

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April 15, 2016

Broker Violations & FINRA: PNC Investments to Pay $225K for Overcharging for Mutual Funds and Stifel Nicolaus is Fined $750K For Not Following Reserve Requirements

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has announced that PNC Investments will pay nearly $225K in restitution for charging retirement clients too much for mutual fund investments. According to the regulator, the brokerage firm did not apply waivers for investors in certain Class A share mutual funds even though there was a waiver for front-end charges for eligible customers.

Instead, said FINRA, PNC Investments sold Class A shares customers with a front-end load or other shares that had a back-end load and higher fees and expenses, some of which were charged on an ongoing basis. Because of this, certain customers were charged excessive fees and paid them.

FINRA said that PNC Investments charged 121 customer accounts in excess of $191,740 for mutual funds—although the actual amount, with interest, was closer to $224,750. PNC will pay restitution to eligible investors.

The brokerage firm self-reported the overcharges after reviewing its own conduct last year to assess whether it was issuing the sales waiver to those that were eligible. FINRA said that the broker-dealer experienced lapses in supervision, did not keep up written policies and procedures that were adequate, and failed to help advisers assess when to waive the sales charges.

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April 6, 2016

Securities Fraud: Ex-SWS Financial Services Broker Faces Improper Trading Charges, Ex-Fox Commentator Settles Penny Stock Scam Case, and Former Investment Adviser Gets 7-Years in Prison

FINRA Accuses Ex-Broker of Unsuitable Trading Involving Mutual Funds
David Randall Lockey, a former broker, is facing Financial Industry Regulatory Authority charges for allegedly engaging in improper trading of customer accounts while associated with SWS Financial Services Inc. He is no longer with that firm, now called the Hilltop Securities Independent Network. According to the regulator, Lockey took part in “unsuitable short-term trading and switching” involving unit investment trusts and mutual funds in four accounts between ’12 and ’14.

Lockey purportedly made about $75,730 for himself and the firm while engaging in improper trading. Meantime, three of the four customers whose accounts he used sustained losses of $15,699. The fourth customer made a gain of almost $5,000.

FINRA said Lockey has not been registered with any broker-dealer since 2014.


Ex-TV Commentator Settles Penny Stock Fraud Charges with the SEC
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is charging former FOX commentator Tobin Smith with fraud. According to the regulator, Smith, who is also a market analyst, and his NBT Group fraudulently promoted a penny stock to investors.

The SEC said that both Smith and his firm received payments to prepare and distribute e-mails, articles, blogs, and other communication promoting IceWEB Inc. stock. They purportedly failed to fully disclose they were receiving the compensation.

The investors were not made aware of that part of what Smith and NBT were paid was linked to a sustained rise in the data storage company’s share price. The Commission said that marketing materials the investors received included misleading and false statements put there to artificially up the share price and trading volume of IceWEB stock. For example, payment for promotional efforts was $300K and IceWEB stock. NBT could also make over $250K if marketing campaigns proved successful.

Continue reading "Securities Fraud: Ex-SWS Financial Services Broker Faces Improper Trading Charges, Ex-Fox Commentator Settles Penny Stock Scam Case, and Former Investment Adviser Gets 7-Years in Prison" »

March 24, 2016

Elder Investors: Morgan Stanley Must Pay Home Shopping Network’s Estate Over $34M, Broker Accused of Making Over $1.7M From Churning at Craig Scott Capital, and $10M Ponzi Scam Involving Jamaican Businesses Targets Older Investors

FINRA Panel Awards Estate Over $34M from Morgan Stanley in the Wake of Churning Allegations
A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel awarded the estate of Home Shopping Network Roy M. Speer over $34M in its case against Morgan Stanley (MS). The panel ruled that the firm, branch manager Terry McCoy, and broker Ami Forte were jointly liable for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, unauthorized trading, constructive fraud, unjust enrichment, and negligent supervision. The alleged negligence would have occurred from 1/09 to 6/12 and involved investments in the financial services and banking sectors.

According to Mrs. Speer’s lawyer, in six of Mr. Speer’s accounts, about 12,000 transactions took place, most of them involving municipal bond trading and corporate trading. Many of these trades were unauthorized.

The arbitrators awarded $32.8M in compensatory damages to Speer’s widow, Lynnda Speer, and $1.5M for the costs involved in the arbitration process. The panel said that Morgan Stanley violated a law in Florida that prohibits the exploitation of vulnerable adults. Mr. Speer had dementia. Forte, who was his broker, is said to have been in a relationship with him.


Former Craig Scott Capital Broker Accused of Elder Financial Fraud
FINRA is accusing broker Edward Beyn of making over $1.7M in commissions and fees by engaging in excessive trading in client accounts while he was a registered representative at Craig Scott Capital. He is now with Rothschild Liberman. Beyn is accused of churning nine accounts of six customers, all of them over the age of 60, from 3/12 through 5/15. They all sustained losses.

Continue reading "Elder Investors: Morgan Stanley Must Pay Home Shopping Network’s Estate Over $34M, Broker Accused of Making Over $1.7M From Churning at Craig Scott Capital, and $10M Ponzi Scam Involving Jamaican Businesses Targets Older Investors" »

March 8, 2016

North Carolina Retiree Couple Files FINRA Arbitration Case Against Morgan Stanley Over Energy Investment

Two North Carolina investors have filed an arbitration claim with FINRA against Morgan Stanley (MS) over unsuitable investments involving the financial firm’s Cushing MLP High Income Exchange Traded Note. The married couple, who are retirees in their sixties, are accusing the brokerage firm of:


· Common law fraud

· Negligence

· Breach of fiduciary duty

· Negligent supervision

· Failure to adequately disclose the risks


In a phone interview with InvestmentNews, the claimants said that they have lost over $100K. According to the couple, a Morgan Stanley broker invested about $150,000 of their money in the Morgan Stanley Cushing MLP High Income ETN, which is an exchange traded note connected to master limited partnerships with shipping and energy assets. Their legal team said that the couple did not understand the extent of the risks involved in that they could potentially lose their principal. This was a loss they could not afford. Instead, the claimants were purportedly told that their investment would make them money.

The Cushing MLP High Income Exchange Traded Note seeks to give investors cash upon maturity or early repurchase, as well as variable coupon payments every quarter (depending on how the underlying index, performs). The claimants’ broker fraud lawyers believe that Morgan Stanley recommended the exchange traded note to investors who were seeking to make money but may not have understood or been fully apprised of all the risks.

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March 3, 2016

Ex-MetLife, Prudential Broker Accused of Deceptive Conduct Involving Variable Annuity Sales

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is accusing Winston Wade Turner, a former registered representative with Pruco Securities Inc. and MetLife Securities Inc., of misconduct related to the exchanges and sales of variable annuities. Turner allegedly persuaded clients to exchange certain investments, including variable annuities, which compelled them to surrender existing contracts to pay for the purchase of new variable annuities. In certain situations, this led to surrender charges for the client and additional commissions for Turner.

The regulator contends that Turner concealed the transactions’ unsuitable nature from brokerage firms and his clients. He allegedly did this by falsifying documents and misrepresenting how certain income features on the annuity contracts functioned. FINRA claims that Turner hid the nature of the VA transactions from his firm by managing to get around the additional documentation and supervisory examination mandated for the exchanges. He also sometimes would recommend to clients that they put proceeds from the contract surrenders into their bank accounts first—as opposed to a direct annuity to annuity transfer—and then use those funds to purchase new variable annuities.

Turner is accused of falsifying VA applications, documents related to VA exchanges, and customer information forms. He purportedly forged customer signatures and used his own e-mail address, misrepresenting it as the address of customers so that he would receive their account notifications instead.

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March 2, 2016

FiNRA Bars Chicago-Based Broker For Market Manipulation

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred broker George Johnson from the industry. The regulator is accusing him of market manipulation involving the artificial inflation of a penny stock’s value. FINRA claims that Newport Coast Securities, which is the last firm where Johnson worked, let its brokers engaging in churning.

According to the self-regulatory organization, over eight days in May 2012, Johnson, while working for Meyers Associates, told customers to buy stocks of iceWEB at prices that were artificially inflated. He also suggested that certain clients sell their shares to match trades between clients.

FINRA said that Johnson manipulated stock to get business from the issuer, which agreed to compensate him for a future private offering. He purportedly worked with a stock promoter to increase iceWEB’s share price to the point that certain warrants could be exercised.

Johnson also has been accused of involvement in a second penny stock fraud and he purportedly has tried to cover up different state securities violations. He has a history of regulatory actions and customer disputes going as far back to 1994. Johnson previously worked for H.J. Meyers & Co. and Jesup & Lamont Securities, two firms that have since been expelled. Meyers Associates also has been linked to a number of regulatory probes.

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February 24, 2016

Raymond James Must Pay Investor $795K

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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February 20, 2016

FINRA Says Investors Should Consider the Risks Before Investing in SBLOCs

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s’ Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has issued an investor alert recommending that investors get to know the risks before deciding to invest in securities-backed lines of credit, also known as SBLOCs. Although SBLOCs can be a major revenue for securities firms, there is the chance of increased losses, especially during times of market volatility.

SBLOCs
Securities-backed lines of credit are loans that let an investor borrow money using securities that are kept in an investment account as collateral. An SBLOC allows an investor make interest-only payments each month and loans stay outstanding until they are repaid.

SBLOCs are frequently marketed as a low-cost, easy way to gain access to additional money without having to liquidate securities even as an investor borrows against assets in an investment portfolio. However, they come with certain risks, including unintended tax consequences and the possibility that an investor might have to sell his/her holdings, which could affect long-term investment goals.

SBLOCs are similar to home equity credit lines except that they involve securities as collateral rather than the home. An investor is allowed to repay part or all of the outstanding principal at any time and then borrow again in the future.

An SBLOC is a non-purpose loan. This means that the investor is not allowed to use the proceeds to buy or trade securities. However, money from an SBLOC can be utilized to finance almost anything you want, including home renovations, education expenses, or personal travel.

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