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Weekly Report – 8/4/17

1 – The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), an association of state securities regulators, released a 23-page report of a broker-dealer survey conducted in 2016 focusing on senior investors.  The report was released in mid-June 2017 and it included data from 60 broker-dealer firms relating to the supervision of seniors’ accounts and escalation of senior issues.  The report found virtually all broker-dealer firms had both an internal process to identify and report suspected diminished capacity or senior financial abuse and staff training on these policies.  Areas of concern based on the survey include almost 50% of broker-dealers did not identify any resources used to assist their senior clients.  Also of concern was that only 1/3rd of the broker dealers had policies and procedures specifically tailored for senior accounts.  More than half lacked a formal policy defining senior customers.  NASAA’s top ten recommendations based on the survey results included a recommendation to broker dealers that they should use clear definitions of “seniors” and “vulnerable adults,” and they should provide dedicated staff resources, have more frequent account profile updates including documentation relating to investment objectives, and they should have policies to delay account disbursements if concerns are escalated, among several other helpful recommendations. If you are or know of a senior investor or vulnerable adult who has suffered losses with a brokerage firm or investment advisor, please contact the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.  

2 – Advisorhub.com reported on 8/1/17 that Morgan Stanley fired two Boston area stockbrokers for alleged theft-related issues.  Morgan Stanley is believed to have dismissed the two stockbrokers for allegedly stealing client money according to the FINRA registration records.  James Polese and Cornelius “Cory” Peterson were fired over “allegations of conduct involving misappropriating client assets” according to FINRA brokercheck reports.  The two stockbrokers worked at Morgan Stanley’s branch office located at 53 State Street in Boston, and were part of The Willing Group, a team of financial consultants led by James R. “Bob” Willing and John H. Buck III.  If you are an investor who has suffered losses with a Polese, Peterson, The Willing Group, Morgan Stanley or any other stockbroker or financial consultant related to any alleged theft or misappropriation, or any investment transactions, please contact the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.  

3 – Two Oregon retirees are believed to have filed a customer complaint case against Cetera Advisors based on allegations related to activities by stockbroker George Merhoff, who is alleged to have recommended a heavy concentration in only a handful of high risk oil and energy investments including Linn Energy, Cliffs Natural Resources, Teekay Partners, and other similar securities.  Allegations also include a failure to supervise by Cetera Advisors.  In 2017 alone, Merhoff appears to have at least five separate customer complaint cases and a regulatory issue with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Division of Financial Regulation.  See FINRA brokercheck.  If you are an investor who has suffered losses with Merhoff or Cetera Advisors related to any energy investments, please contact the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.  

4 – On 8/3/17, Investmentnews.com reported LPL’s new CEO is intent on trying to move beyond past problems, noting that new CEO, Dan Arnold, was at the firm’s annual Focus meeting striking a positive tone and trying to move beyond problems that have dogged the 14,000 advisor firm over the past few years.  LPL Financial has had multimillion dollar fines from regulators and turnover among senior management.  Despite the upbeat message it remains to be seen if future events will follow through and support this new message at LPL Financial.  If you are an investor who has suffered investment losses with a stockbroker, investment advisor, financial consultant at LPL Financial, please contact the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.  

5 – On 7/25/17, Law360.com reported that Electronic Transaction Clearing, Inc., a clearing firm has agreed recently to pay a $250,000 fine to FINRA for failing to implement anti-money laundering policies and violating multiple customer protection and supervisory rules.  The firm agreed to pay the fine without admitting liability.  If you are an investor who suffered losses with a brokerage firm or investment advisor, please call the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.

6 – FinancialAdvisorIQ reported on 8/1/17 that FINRA expungement petition filings are skyrocketing with twice as many stockbrokers seeking expungement of customer complaints this year as investors are increasingly more aware of FINRA brokercheck.  Stockbrokers are winning the vast majority of these cases, but that could be because brokerage firms and customers frequently do not object to the petitions when they are filed. If you are an investor who suffered losses with a brokerage firm or investment advisor, please call the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.

7 – Sandy Galuppo of New York, New York was a financial consultant terminated by Merrill Lynch in October 2016 based on allegations that he furnished expense information to his firm that violated the company’s policies.  In or about April 2017, it is believed that FINRA launched an investigation into Mr. Galuppo’s activities and conduct between 2012-2015 in relation to FINRA rules 4511 and Rule 2010.  The FINRA investigation is believed to still be pending.  See FINRA brokercheck.  If you are an investor who suffered losses with Galuppo or Merrill Lynch, please call the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.

8 – Investmentnews.com reported on 7/31/17 that the SEC charged four former financial consultant reps or stockbrokers from LPL Financial with fraud for variable annuity (VA) sales targeting federal employees.  It was noted that the financial consultants implied a government affiliation or approval.  All four financial consultants were in the Atlanta, Georgia area and they were charged with inducing federal employees to roll over holdings from their federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) retirement accounts into higher fee variable annuity products.  Between March 2012 and November 2014, financial consultants Christopher Laws, Jonathan Cooke, Danny Hood and Brandon Long were all four registered with LPL Financial in the Atlanta, Georgia area with Federal Employee Benefits Counselors (FEBC) when they sold approximately 200 variable annuity products with face value $40 million to federal employees, and earning $1.7 million in commissions on the sales transactions.  The SEC is seeking disgorgement of the ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties and permanent injunctions against the individuals from continuing their registrations in the securities industry.  One or more of the financial consultants have more recently been registered with BCG Securities, Inc. and/or Summit Brokerage Services, Inc.  If you are an investor who has suffered losses with LPL Financial, BCG Securities, Summit Brokerage Services, Laws, Cooke, Hood, Long, FEBC related to variable annuity products or any other investment transactions, or if you are federal employee who has been solicited by a financial consultant to rollover TSP funds into variable annuity products and you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Investment Loss Recovery Team at the Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell Law Firm at 1-800-856-3352 for a no-cost consultation and review.