RRBDlaw.com: New FINRA cases now online and analyzed by Bill Singer

September 23, 2009

Veteran regulatory lawyer Bill Singer's analysis of recent FINRA cases is now online at http://RRBDLAW.com.  Make sure to click on the links to read Bill's commentary about these matters and more.

Daniel Allen Abbott presented unapproved seminars to promote the sale of reverse mortgages and solicit various types of investments from senior citizens. Among conduct cited by FINRA, was Abbott's use of  improper invitations,  and of  a slide and handouts that projected unfounded claims of future performance.  Reverse Mortgages are coming under regulatory scrutiny because of reports of senior-citizen abuse, and this case seems to confirm that FINRA is indeed watching this area. Note that  seminar materials themselves may constitute advertising materials requiring filing and/or review -- as in the case of the slides.  
Filiep Paul Sackx distributed newsletters and seminar invitations that a principal of his member firm had not approved for distribution. One of the newsletters referenced an unregistered entity through which Sackx engaged in business but did not disclose the relationship between his firm and the unregistered entity. The invitations and Sackx' Web site misrepresented that he was the author of books. With prospecting for new clients proving daunting in this recessionary landscape, many RRs are turning to newsletters, seminars, and websites to reach potential customers.  As always, what may strike a stockbroker as fair and reasonable may be seen quite differently by the employing firm's Compliance Department or any number of regulators.
Michael Timothy Williams provided a prospective client with a piece of sales literature for a variable annuity that he had falsified by deleting the original time periods for charges (replacing with handwritten shorter terms that falsely depicted lower charges for withdrawals) and crossed out certain expenses/charges.   Variable Annuities (VAs) are another area that has come under enhanced regulatory scrutiny in the past couple of years.  This case raises troubling questions -- what can customers rely on and who can they trust?  RRs may not be subject to a fiduciary standard that exalts the client's interests above all else but, still, (without first looking) tell me what you think the fine and suspension should be in this case -- and they tell me if you think the sanctions imposed seem fair.
Kareem Isadore Washington assisted customers in opening fraudulent bank accounts through the use of falsified identifying information and with initial deposits via counterfeit checks drawn on the accounts of the firm's other customers. Despite knowing the above, Washington made branch and automatic teller machine withdrawals for the customers. He received approximately $4,700 in compensation for assisting in the scheme. The bank lost a total of $43,093.81 from the scheme.  It's out there folks.  This isn't just the storyline of a new movie or television show.  Just because it's a bank, just because some guy is dressed in a suit, just because the checks look real and the ATM machine seems safe, no longer means squat.  As if the Madoff scam and others haven't made it clear by now: Wall Street is a world of appearances, smoke, and mirrors.  All in all, more good guys than bad but it only takes one Madoff or one Washington to cause a whole lot of hurt to a whole lot of victims.
Preston Douglas Runyan affixed the signature of a public customer's spouse to a spousal consent provision on an individual retirement account application without the spouse's permission and authorization. Runyan signed his name on the application as witnessing the spouse's signature, which he had not.  At the time -- and that's always the explanation my clients give to me -- this probably seemed like a good idea.  In the aftermath, the broker typically learns that the husband and wife were going through a separation or divorce, or that one spouse's promise that the other was okay with the transaction proves to have been false.  The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but many of those intentions are simply poor business decisions and foolish risks.
ABOUT:  BrokeAndBroker.com and RRBDLaw.com lambaste the ineffective regulation of Wall Street and advocate for the rights of defrauded investors, independent/regional firms, and individual registered persons. Provocative commentary by veteran regulatory lawyer Bill Singer.

See Bill's online resume at http://rrbdlaw.com/bios_singer.html

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