The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, (FINRA) issued a news release on March 4, 2013 announcing that it had fined Ameriprise Financing Services, Inc. and its affiliated clearing form American Enterprise Investment Services, Inc. $750,000 for failing to have reasonable supervisory systems in place to monitor wire transfer requests. In the News Release, FINRA disclosed that its investigation was related to Ameriprise’s former registered representative Jennifer Guelinas, who apparently converted approximately $790,000 over four years from two of her clients by forging wire requests that paid in to accounts she controlled.
According to the News Release, Ameriprise failed to detect several “red flags,” including that Ms. Guelinas submitted forged wire requests from a customer’s account to an account that appeared to be under her control. FINRA further disclosed that on at least three occasions where Ameriprise initially rejected wire requests, they were then accepted on either the same day or another day after simply being resubmitted by Ms. Guelinas. The News Release stated that Ameriprise also accepted one request after it had begun to investigate Ms. Guelinas, and accepted another wire transfer request that was submitted by Guelinas after she was terminated, though the firm recognized its mistake in time before the money was accessed.
FINRA Rules require that securities firms have and enforce reasonable supervisory procedures in place to monitor each registered representative’s conduct to ensure that they are acting in compliance with securities laws. According to the News Release, Ameriprise did not have adequate reasonable supervisory procedures in place. The FINRA News Release stated that Ameriprise had already paid full restitution to the two customers for losses in their accounts.
The risks of not having adequate supervisory procedures in place are well evidenced in this enforcement action by FINRA. It appears Ms. Guelinas took advantage, knowing that Ameriprise had no effective supervision in place relating to wire requests. The securities laws, interpretive materials as well as applicable case law make clear that securities firms serve as the gatekeepers to the securities industry, and are the first line in defense against securities fraud.
The attorneys at Malecki Law engage in securities litigation and arbitration in forums such as FINRA, where they have handled many cases involving firms’ failures to supervise their registered representatives. If you believe you have lost money as a result of questionable conduct by your broker, please contact an attorney at Malecki Law to determine if you may be able to recover some or all of your losses.