Articles Tagged with FINRA investigation

You just received a Subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  What will you have to produce?  We regularly represent securities industry professionals and investors who have gotten these Subpoenas, and the reaction is usually the same: people are nervous and concerned.  How will this affect your business, and how what will it take the comply?

Getting an SEC Subpoena is a serious matter, and it is imperative that you carefully comply in a timely manner.  Subpoenas will typically require you to produce documents or testify, or both.  Your goal should always to limit your involvement with the federal authorities, and this begins with your production of documents in response to the Subpoena.

The first step is to remember that just because you received a Subpoena does not mean you automatically did something wrong.  You may not be the SEC’s target, but may be someone the Commission believes has information related to another person or business.  The SEC is not obligated to tell you whether they view you as a target or a witness, and you should not assume you are a target.

The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding former UBS financial adviser Jeffrey Howell.

Per reports, Mr. Howell has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)for providing a customer with false weekly account statements for over six years.  According to a settlement notice in connection with an investigation by FINRA , Mr. Howell sent these weekly statements with inflated values, at times overvaluing the account by close to $3 million.

Mr. Howell also allegedly used his own personal email account to distribute these reports, which compromised the accuracy of the firm’s books and records. Per BrokerCheck, Mr. Howell has not been licensed in the securities industry since 2014.

The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding L.O. Thomas & Co , Inc. financial advisor Anthony Librizzi.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Librizzi was most recently with Wells Fargo Advisors LLC before resigning amid allegations.

FINRA records indicate that Mr. Librizzi resigned from Wells Fargo voluntarily in 2013 amid allegations that he “accepted $8,000 from a client.”

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Christopher B Ariola.  Mr. Ariola was last employed and registered with Financial Telesis, Inc., an Aliso Viejo broker-dealer, from November 2012 to September 2014, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  He was previously registered with Bay Mutual Financial LLC from September 2004 to September 2012, according to BrokerCheck records.

FINRA filed Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2012034139101 against Mr. Ariola on August 25, 2016 alleging that he recommended that three elderly retiree investors invest a “substantial portion of their limited retirement assets in certain gold and energy stocks.”  The Complaint further alleged that these recommendations were unsuitable because they were not appropriate given each investor’s respective financial circumstances, investment objectives and low risk tolerances, and because the recommendations resulted in each account becoming concentrated in gold and energy stocks.  Gold is a commodity, which like energy stocks, can be traded.  Both commodities and energy stocks tend tobe risky investments and can lead to large losses.

According to his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Ariola has been the subject of four customer complaints.  The latest customer complaint led to a FINRA arbitration proceeding, according to BrokerCheck records.  The BrokerCheck records reveal that the customer alleged churning and unsuitability.  Churning is generally defined as excessive trading by the broker in the client’s account to generate commissions.  FINRA Rules require that recommendations made by the broker to the customer be suitable.  This means that the broker must consider the investor’s age, investment experience, age, tax status, other investments, as well as other factors when making a recommendation to buy or sell securities.

Generally speaking, it’s usually not a good thing when when a company is fined for similar conduct multiple times.

Just this month, UBS Financial Services, Inc. submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2013038351701 (AWC) that detailed a $250,000 fine for failures in supervision regarding sales of mutual fund shares to investors.  According to the AWC, for a four year period, from approximately 2009 to 2013, UBS failed to provide sales charge waivers to customers entitled to waivers through rights of reimbursement.  The AWC detailed that this conduct created a violation of FINRA Rule 2010 (Standards of Commercial Honor and Principles of Trade).

Mutual fund class A shares generally require the investor to pay an upfront sales charge, except where the mutual fund waives the charge, such as when the mutual fund is purchased with a right of reimbursement.  The AWC detailed that investors sometimes purchase class A shares with right of reimbursement when they reinvest proceeds from earlier redemptions of Class A shares in the same fund or fund family within a specific time period.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today a complaint filed against Hank Marker Werner for allegations including securities fraud for churning the account of a senior-aged blind widow customer and for making excessive and unsuitable trading recommendations in a News Release.

According to his publicly available BrokerCheck report records maintained by FINRA, Mr. Werner was employed and licensed by Legend Securities, Inc. from December 2012 to March 2016.  Prior to working at Legend Securities, Inc., he was employed by Liberty Partners Financial Services, LLC from July to December 2012, Brookstone Securities, Inc. from March 2011 to June 2012, and Alexander Capital, LP from November 2009 to March 2011, per Mr. Werner’s BrokerCheck report.

FINRA’s News Release detailed that Mr. Werner allegedly engaged in a deceptive and fraudulent scheme by churning the elderly client’s over the course of three years “to maximize his compensation by charging more than $243,000 in commissions, while causing the customer approximately $184,000 in net losses.”  The News Release also stated:

The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Raymond James Financial Services broker Joseph Amalfitano of Malvern, PA. According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Amalfitano moved to Raymond James after stints at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Amalfitano was recently the subject of two customer complaints since 2008, per FINRA records.

According to his BrokerCheck, in 2012, Mr. Amalfitano was alleged to have “maintained an unsuitable concentration of Bank of America stock” in customers’ accounts. Overconcentration can be dangerous since it has the potential to create higher risk and volatility of an account when compared to a more balanced, diversified portfolio. FINRA records indicate this case was settled.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in speaking with those who invested in AR Global REITs. Industry analysts and consultants believe that investors in a number of AR Global-sponsored real estate investment trusts (REITs) are in danger of having their distributions cut, per InvestmentNews.

Specifically, investors in American Realty Capital Global Trust II, American Realty Capital New York City REIT, American Finance Trust, American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust, American Realty Capital Retail Centers of America, Healthcare Trust, and Realty Finance Trust may be at risk, according to the report.

The problem is said to stem from the MFFO (modified funds from operations a/k/a cash flow) at seven of AR Global’s REITs. The MFFO of these seven funds reportedly failed to match or exceed their distributions. In simple terms, this would mean that the funds failed to take in as much as they were distributing. Such a situation has the potential to mean big trouble for investors including distribution cuts and rapid decline in asset value – i.e., less income and large losses to the principal.

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.