April 3, 2014
In elementary school, you may get an "A" for penmanship but at FINRA you may get a time-out. In today's BrokeAndBroker Blog, we have the unfortunate tale of a registered person who added his manager's name to a document altering a returned check's status to that of paid. It may have been a very good copy of the superior's handwriting. It certainly was not a very good idea.
For the purpose of proposing a settlement of rule violations alleged by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA"), without admitting or denying the findings, prior to a regulatory hearing, and without an adjudication of any issue, Wan Soo Kim submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Wan Soo Kim, Respondent (AWC 2013038358102, March 26, 2014).
Kim entered the securities industry in October 2010 with J.P. Morgan Securities L.L.C. and its predecessor firms ("JPM"), where he remained until August 22, 2013. During the times relevant to this matter Kim was dually employed as an Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts with JPM and as a personal banker with a JPM affiliated bank ("Bank"). The AWC asserts that Kim had no prior relevant disciplinary history.
On August 5, 2013, a Bank customer telephoned Kim and asked him about the status of a check that the customer had remitted to a third-party. Kim determined that the check had not been paid by the Bank. Perhaps in an over zealous attempt at customer service, Kim signed his bank manager's name on a bank document that permitted the alteration of the check's status from "return - not paid" to "paid."
According to online FINRA documents as of April 4, 2014, the Bank "Discharged" Kim on August 22, 2013, based upon allegations that:
TERMINATED BY AFFILIATE BANK - NON SECURITIES RELATED. REGISTERED REP ADMITTED TO SIGNING A BRANCH MANAGERS NAME TO A BANK DOCUMENT WITHOUT THE MANAGERS KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT.
In furtherance of its investigation into the circumstances of Kim's termination, FINRA sent to him two letters in October 2013 demanding a written statement and the production of certain documents. The AWC asserts that Kim failed to timely respond to the requests. Thereafter, he was notified that his non-response would result in a suspension in January 2014, which would thereafter convert to a bar in March 2014 if he persisted in not responding. On January 7, 2014, Kim responded, albeit in an untimely manner and in violation of his obligations under FINRA rules.
In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Kim a $7,500 fine and a 9-month suspension from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.
Bill Singer's Comment
Bad enough that Kim signed off in his manager's name. Perhaps even worse that his efforts at mastering his boss's signature altered a returned check to one with a paid status. On the other hand, what the hell was up with playing hide-and-seek with FINRA? After all, it wasn't as if he was going to tell FINRA something all that different from what he had admitted to JPM and the Bank. About all that Kim likely accomplished was a few thousand more in fines and a few months more in suspension.