August 1, 2014
Sometimes it's strictly business. Sometimes it is personal. The thing is, when you're submitting a reimbursement request to your employer and claiming that the expense is strictly business, you better make sure that you can back it up. Yeah, I know, they gave you a corporate credit card and, geez, a meal here, a few extra miles for gas . . . like how they gonna know? Great question. But you better be ready with a convincing answer someone from accounting calls you and starts asking their own great questions.
Case In Point
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, James Xavier Dunne submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of James Xavier Dunne, Respondent (AWC 2013038564801, July 25, 2014).
Dunne entered the securities in 2007 and was thereafter registered with Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC until October 2013. The AWC asserts that he had no prior relevant disciplinary history.
The AWC alleges that during the relevant period between February 2011 and August 2013,
Dunne was employed by Fidelity Brokerage Services as a Workplace Planning and Guidance Consultant, and he worked from his residence. As part of his job, Dunne was required to travel to his clients.
The AWC alleges that during the relevant period, Dunne submitted reimbursement requests for:
- $406.80 for mileage he traveled on days when he did not travel but was working from home;
- $867 for meals he did not eat; and
- $296.66 for corporate credit card charges that were deemed personal meal expenses
The AWC further alleges that Dunne received $374.63 in duplicate payments for business expenses.
According to online FINRA records as of August 2, 2014, Fidelity Brokerage Services "Discharged" Dunne on September 12, 2013, based upon allegations that:
ALLEGATIONS THAT THE EMPLOYEE VIOLATED CORPORATE TRAVEL AND BUSINESS EXPENSE POLICY. NON-SALES PRACTICE RELATED.
Deeming the conduct as violations of FINRA Rule 2010, in accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Dunne a Bar from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity.
Second Case In Point
For the purpose of proposing a settlement of rule violations alleged by FINRA, without admitting or denying the findings, prior to a regulatory hearing, and without an adjudication of any issue, Alex Court Brown submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Alex Court Brown, Respondent (AWC 2012031887001, July 25, 2014).
Brown entered the industry in 1997 and during all times relevant to this matter was associated with Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC. until March 2012, and thereafter joined another FINRA member firm. The AWC asserts that he was not the subject of any prior formal disciplinary action.
FINRA alleges that between April 5, 2011, and November 8, 2011, on 7 separate occasions, Brown used his business credit card for personal expenses and, notwithstanding, submitted expense reports to Fidelity for which he was reimbursed $1,474.76. FINRA deemed the submission of personal expenses under the guise of reimbursable business expenses and the acceptance of said payments as violations of FINRA Rule 2010.
According to online FINRA records as of August 2, 2014, Fidelity Brokerage Services permitted Dunne to resign on February 24, 2012, based upon allegations that:
EMPLOYEE SUBMITTED EXPENSES FOR PERSONAL MEALS WITH A CO-WORKER THAT WERE PAID WITH COMPANY CREDIT CARD IN VIOLATION OF COMPANY POLICY
In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Brown a Bar from association with any FINRA member firm in all capacities.