Blog by Bill Singer Esq WEEK IN REVIEW

February 5, 2022
You know those days when you just want to pull the covers over your head and not get out of bed? Well, FINRA had one of those days. As to what caused all of FINRA's anxiety, let's start with these words in a court's order about a FINRA public customer arbitration hearing: "The transcripts satisfy the Investors' burden of proving the fraud on the panel by clear and convincing evidence. The audio tapes, which were not available to the Investors until after the close of the hearing, confirm that Wells Fargo' s key witness used the delay caused by the medical emergency to materially change his testimony and offer perjured testimony in direct contravention of the earlier testimony. In addition, counsel for Wells Fargo inserted himself as a fact witness and purported to testify to the Panel himself to support the changed story."
In yet another industry regulatory settlement, FINRA seems in a haste to collect a fine and, well, hey, let's just rush through the statement of facts so as to justify our sanctions and move on. All of which looks more like a speed trap on the Wall Street highway than fair regulation. Now, to be fair to FINRA, the stockbroker entered into the settlement and is apparently happy to do the time and pay the fine. All of which leaves it to me to act as the industry gadfly and grouse about something that no one else will bother to note.
The Wall Street career of Gopi Krishna Vungarala is a smoldering train wreck. Without question, Vungarala and his family had their personal struggles, which makes this story more poignant and tragic. That backstory notwithstanding, it's hard to argue against FINRA's imposition on Vungarala of a Bar and the SEC's ratification of same; and it's equally difficult to dispute a FINRA arbitration panel's imposition of compensatory and punitive damages against him. In the most recent update of this saga, a federal court grants a motion to confirm the arbitration award.
By now, you'd think that Wall Street's regulatory community would want something akin to full disclosure to the investing public about successful public customer lawsuits against Robinhood. Certainly, you'd think that FINRA Dispute Resolution Services is mindful of the clamor surrounding Robinhood: meme stocks, gamification, payment for order flow, systems outages. Going by the lack of a fact pattern and rationale in a recent public customer arbitration against Robinhood, FINRA seems to think that disclosing nothing is sound public advocacy. Ah yes, FINRA, the Sheriff of Nothing-ham, and a modern-day Robinhood!