Articles Posted in Securities Fraud & Unsuitable Investments

insidertradingThe securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Frank Giacalone.  Mr. Giacalone has been employed and registered with Aegis Capital Corp., a broker-dealer, working out of the Melville, New York office since November 2012, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Giacalone was previously employed by Obsidian Financial Group, LLC from 2008 to 2012, Empire Financial Group, Inc. from 2005 to 2008 and Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum, Inc. from 2001 to 2005.  FINRA disclosed that they expelled each of these three firms in 2013, 2009 and 2012, respectively.

According to his BrokerCheck records, Mr. Giacalone has become the subject of one customer complaint filed in June 2015 about which it was detailed that “Claimant alleged unsuitable recommendations.”  The complaint sought $107,969.92, the amount of alleged losses, according to BrokerCheck records.

The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Wells Fargo financial advisor Robert Ross.  According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Ross recently moved to Wells Fargo after spending 30 years at Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Ross was recently the subject of a customer complaint alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and excessive trading, per FINRA records.  BrokerCheck indicates that an arbitration related to this customer complaint is presently pending.

Excessive trading, also known as churning, in the industry can be disastrous for a portfolio.  When a broker trades an account excessively, large amounts of commissions and fees may be generated, if the account is commission based (as opposed to fee based).  Churning is a classic example of a broker putting his or her own monetary gain above the best interests of his or her customer.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Richard William Martin.  Mr. Martin was most recently employed and registered from July 2009 to July 2015 with G.F. Investment Services, LLC from an office in Penang, Malaysia, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  According to BrokerCheck records, Mr. Martin was permitted to resign amid allegations concerning FINRA’s Case No. 20150445876 which “appears to be centered around ETF trades.”

According to the FINRA Complaint, Mr. Martin violated FINRA Rules 2310 and 2111 related to suitability of recommendations by “not having a reasonable basis to recommend, for long-term holding, non-traditional exchange traded funds (‘Non-traditional ETFs’).”  The FINRA Complaint details that Mr. Martin believed the world economy was “on the precipice of catastrophe and his customers should invest and hold Non-traditional ETFs to hedge against the impending catastrophe.”

The FINRA Complaint detailed that ETF shares generally represent an interest in a portfolio of securities that tracks an underlying benchmark or index, such as the S&P 500.  Non-traditional ETFs differ in that they are more complex investment products that rely on strategies, such as interest rate swap agreements, futures contract, and other derivative instruments, to attempt to return a multiple and/or inverse of an underlying benchmark.  This would generally make non-traditional ETFs subject to more risk, and therefore may not be suitable for certain investors.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding long-time Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Paul F. Kane.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Kane is currently the subject of a pending customer dispute.  The allegations include unsuitable investment recommendations, excessive trading and misrepresentation and omission of material facts, per FINRA.   According to the disclosures on Mr. Kane’s BrokerCheck, the customer is requesting $1.1 million in damages.

Excessive trading, also known as churning in the industry, can be disastrous for a portfolio.  When a broker trades an account excessively, large amounts of commissions and fees may be generated, if the account is commission based (as opposed to fee based).  Churning is a classic example of a broker putting his or her own monetary gain above the best interests of his or her customer.

Morgan Stanley broker Armando Fernandez has been suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for 20 business days, according to publicly available FINRA records.  Per a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent filed with FINRA, Mr. Fernandez was accused of exercising discretion in a customer account without prior written acceptance of the account as discretionary from his member firm.  FINRA records indicate that Mr. Fernandez was also fined $7,500.

Generally, brokers are prohibited from placing trades in a customer account without speaking to the customer first, unless an account is a discretionary account.  When discretion is given by the customer to the broker, it is typically documented in a signed agreement.  When there is not such a signed agreement, and a broker executes transactions on a discretionary basis anyway, violations of FINRA Rules likely have taken place.

Customers who have been the victim of brokers improperly exercising discretion in their accounts (or violating other FINRA Rules) may be entitled to recover their losses in an action against the firm and/or broker responsible.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Kenneth Daley.  Mr. Daley was employed and registered from October 2007 to June 2016 with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., a Garden City, New York broker-dealer, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  According to BrokerCheck records, Mr. Daley voluntarily resigned from Merrill Lynch amid allegations that he was involved in “[c]onduct involving improperly receiving money from a client via checks written from an outside account.”

Per his BrokerCheck report, prior to his employment and subsequent resignation from Merrill Lynch, Mr. Daley was employed by Wachovia Securities from 2003 to October 2007.

Subsequent to his resignation, Mr. Daley was barred from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer on June 27, 2016 by FINRA, after submitting a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2016050129701 (AWC).  According to the AWC, Mr. Daley violated:

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding former stockbroker Clark Gardner.  According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Gardner is no longer FINRA licensed to sell investments.  He has also reportedly been the subject of no less than six reportable events, including customer complaints and regulatory investigations.

Per FINRA, Mr. Gardner was permanently barred by both FINRA and the SEC from the financial services industry.  The FINRA investigation of Mr. Gardner reportedly surrounded the conversion of $243,000 of customer funds.  Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Gardner also served as an agent for a real estate investment company without required approval of his firm.

Mr. Gardner has been the subject of customer complaints as well.  Customers have alleged that Mr. Gardner breached fiduciary duties and recommended unsuitable investments.  According to FINRA records, one customer dispute is presently pending, while another was settled for $263,000.

The Bexit vote in Britain appears to be exposing fault lines across various investments.  The Wall Street Journal reported today that emerging market currencies are taking on steep losses a day after Britain voted to leave the European Union, termed Brexit.  According to the article, this comes as the British Pound dropped to a thirty year low and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.K. down from Triple-A status.

Other investments are also showing strain, including oil, and foreign companies, including European banks.  These investments are often packaged into products such as exchange traded funds or limited partnerships, which are generally considered risky and not suitable for certain investors.

For instance, we have commented in recent blog posts that oil and gas limited partnerships are not appropriate for investors that cannot afford to have a significant portion of their portfolio locked up in such an illiquid investment that generally pays high commissions to the brokers who recommend them.

The Dow Jones dropped more than 600 points today in response to the Brexit vote.  This was reportedly the its eighth-largest point loss ever.  Meanwhile, the S&P 500 dropped more than 70 points today.  Certain financial company stocks dropped significantly as well.  Among them were Barclays, which dropped more than 20% and RBS who saw a 27% decline.  The financial sector as a whole reportedly had its worst day since 2011 dropping 5.4%.

While all of this may make the evening news more interesting to watch, the concerns on many people’s minds are undoubtedly, “How will this affect me and my portfolio?”  Especially with baby-boomers retiring each and every day, retirement portfolio losses so close to one’s retirement could be unrecoverable.

One of the first things to look at to see if your portfolio was significantly affected would be to examine at your exposure to the UK and your exposure to the financial sector.

stock downThe securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Walter Marino.  Mr. Marino is currently employed and registered with Lincoln Investment, a broker-dealer, working out of the Dix Hills, New York office, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Marino was previously employed by Legend Securities from 2002 to August 2015, when he was discharged after the “Firm discovered what [Mr. Marino] represented as a non-replacement [variable annuity] sale was in fact a replacement.”  Prior to his employment and subsequent termination from Legend Securities, Mr. Marino left Brill Securities in 2001 by “voluntary resignation” amid allegations of unauthorized trading activity and disregarding a customer’s investments, according to BrokerCheck.

Currently, according to BrokerCheck records, it appears Mr. Marino is a registered broker in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina.