Articles Tagged with broker investigations

 Recently, FINRA issued the 11th Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter that addresses issues in the financial industry, if left unaddressed could adversely effect market integrity and investors. In 2016 their key points of emphasis have been identified as  (1) culture, conflicts of interest and ethics; (2) supervision, risk management and controls; and (3) liquidity. The Letter also highlights specific policies and procedures the FINRA will use to ensure that member firms are compliant with the priorities identified.

According to Richard G. Ketchum, CEO and Chairman, FINRA, “ Firm culture, ethics and conflicts of interest remain a top priority for FINRA. A firm’s culture contributes to, and is also a product of, a firm’s supervision and its approaches to identifying and managing conflicts of interest and the ethical treatment of customers. Given the significant role culture plays in how a firm conducts its business, this year the letter addresses how we will formalize our assessment of firm culture to better understand how culture affects a firm’s compliance and risk management practices.”

  • Culture, Conflicts of interest and Ethics

FINRA reported that it barred 10 former Global Arena Representatives including the former President of Global Arena Capital Corp., Barbara Desiderio, and five former representatives (David Awad a.k.a. David Bennett, James Torres, Peter Snetzko, Alex Wildermuth, and Michael Tannen) in all capacities; barred two former principals, Kevin Hagan and Richard Bohack, for supervisory failures; sanctioned two other former brokers, Niaz Elmazi a.k.a. Nick Morrisey and Andrew Marze, for failing to cooperate with FINRA’s investigation. FINRA had cancelled Global Arena’s membership and barred the owner and three other brokers for fraud in July 2015 in a separate action.

FINRA announced that a 2014 on-site audit and investigation at Global Arena Capital Corp had allegedly revealed several instances of securities fraud including product misrepresentation, use of misleading claims, account churning, unsuitability, and other misconduct like use of high pressure sales tactics to make sales of junk bonds to customers. FINRA reports that their business model involved cold calling vulnerable groups of investors including seniors to make solicited recommendations of securities. These sanctions reiterate FINRA’S focus on tracking down groups of brokers who migrate from one risky and problem-ridden firm to another, with questionable practices. In this instance reported by FINRA, seven of the ten individuals had moved to Global Arena’s new office from HFP Capital Market, a firm that was expelled by FINRA in 2013. Apparently, FINRA’s risk-based approach identified certain brokers who had moved from HFP for heightened regulatory investigation, which confirmed FINRA’s suspicions. In settling the actions, the respondents neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.

According to Susan Axelrod, FINRA’s Executive Vice President, Regulatory Operations, FINRA will continue will continue to monitor brokers who move from expelled or high-risk securities firms. They will use data leveraged from their study of broker migration to expedite investigations and sanction brokers who tend to prey on vulnerable investors.

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