SIDE BAR:NASD Conduct Rule 2430: Charges for Services PerformedCharges, if any, for services performed, including miscellaneous services such as collection of moneys due for principal, dividends, or interest; exchange or transfer of securities; appraisals, safe-keeping or custody of securities, and other services, shall be reasonable and not unfairly discriminatory between customers.Securities Exchange Act Rule 10b-10: Confirmation of TransactionsPreliminary Note.This section requires broker-dealers to disclose specified information in writing to customers at or before completion of a transaction. The requirements under this section that particular information be disclosed is not determinative of a broker-dealer's obligation under the general antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws to disclose additional information to a customer at the time of the customer's investment decision.Disclosure requirement. It shall be unlawful for any broker or dealer to effect for or with an account of a customer any transaction in, or to induce the purchase or sale by such customer of, any security (other than U.S. Savings Bonds or municipal securities) unless such broker or dealer, at or before completion of such transaction, gives or sends to such customer written notification disclosing:The date and time of the transaction (or the fact that the time of the transaction will be furnished upon written request to such customer) and the identity, price, and number of shares or units (or principal amount) of such security purchased or sold by such customer; andWhether the broker or dealer is acting as agent for such customer, as agent for some other person, as agent for both such customer and some other person, or as principal for its own account; and if the broker or dealer is acting as principal, whether it is a market maker in the security (other than by reason of acting as a block positioner) . . .
[A] substantial portion of the $60.50 charge was not attributable to any specific cost or expense incurred by the Firm or service performed by the Firm in executing each transaction or determined by any formula applicable to all customers. A substantial portion of the charge represented a source of additional transaction based remuneration or revenue to the Firm, and was effectively a minimum commission charge. . .
SIDE BAR:FINRA Anti-Money Laundering Rule 3310: Anti-Money Laundering Compliance ProgramEach member shall develop and implement a written anti-money laundering program reasonably designed to achieve and monitor the member's compliance with the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (31 U.S.C. 5311, et seq.), and the implementing regulations promulgated thereunder by the Department of the Treasury. Each member's anti-money laundering program must be approved, in writing, by a member of senior management. The anti-money laundering programs required by this Rule shall, at a minimum,(a) Establish and implement policies and procedures that can be reasonably expected to detect and cause the reporting of transactions required under 31 U.S.C. 5318(g) and the implementing regulations thereunder;(b) Establish and implement policies, procedures, and internal controls reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and the implementing regulations thereunder;(c) Provide for annual (on a calendar-year basis) independent testing for compliance to be conducted by member personnel or by a qualified outside party, unless the member does not execute transactions for customers or otherwise hold customer accounts or act as an introducing broker with respect to customer accounts (e.g., engages solely in proprietary trading or conducts business only with other broker-dealers), in which case such "independent testing" is required every two years (on a calendar-year basis);(d) Designate and identify to FINRA (by name, title, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, and facsimile number) an individual or individuals responsible for implementing and monitoring the day-to-day operations and internal controls of the program (such individual or individuals must be an associated person of the member) and provide prompt notification to FINRA regarding any change in such designation(s); and(e) Provide ongoing training for appropriate personnel.Supplementary Material:.01 Independent Testing Requirements(a) All members should undertake more frequent testing than required if circumstances warrant.(b) Independent testing, pursuant to Rule 3310(c), must be conducted by a designated person with a working knowledge of applicable requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act and its implementing regulations.(c) Independent testing may not be conducted by:(1) a person who performs the functions being tested,(2) the designated anti-money laundering compliance person, or(3) a person who reports to a person described in either subparagraphs (1) or (2) above..02 Review of Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Person InformationEach member must identify, review, and, if necessary, update the information regarding its anti-money laundering compliance person designated pursuant to Rule 3310(d) in the manner prescribed by NASD Rule 1160.
[N]ot qualified to perform the test as he did not have a working knowledge of the applicable requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act and its implementing regulations. The AMI. test was not independent because RV reported directly to the Firm's AMI, compliance officer and took instruction from the compliance officer in how to perform the AMI, test and which documents to review. The test was not adequate as RV failed to actually test the adequacy of the Firm's AML compliance systems and instead relied on what he was told by the AMI compliance officer.
STATEMENT OF CORRECTIVE ACTIONExamination No. 20110257009THIS CORRECTIVE ACTION STATEMENT IS SUBMITTED BY THE RESPONDENT. IT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE FACTUAL OR LEGAL FINDINGS BY FINRA, NOR DOES IT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF FINRAThis submissions in respectfully transmitted for purposes of identifying the various remedial measures undertaken by Blackbook (the “Firm”) in furtherance of its ongoing objective to maintain supervisory systems reasonably designed to achieve compliance with respect to the applicable securities laws and regulations and rules of FINRA.1: FINCEN ReportsFINCEN Reports are now transmitted by email on a bi-weekly basis from fincen.gov to Blackbook's President Franklin Ogele’s firm issued email address and have been contemporaneously reviewed by him since November 15, 2011.Mr. Ogele's reviews are evidenced by way of the FINCEN system's generation of search self-verification memoranda containing the details of such access including the corresponding date and time.2: Email PreservationAny and all business-related email communications – whether involving the Firm's customers, internal correspondence or otherwise -- are being archived by Global Relay and have been captured as such since September 2011.Global Relay is notably the market leader in compliance archiving and message management.3: AML TestThe Firm has been utilizing the services of reputable third parties with no prior nexus to it (i.e. Quadrant Compliance LLC and VMB Consulting Services, Inc.) for purposes of conducting its annual Independent AML tests for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013.4: Miscellaneous Fee ChargesContemporaneous with Blackbook having been freed of Penson's rather onerous five thousand dollar ($5.000) per month minimum charges in favor of Stern Agee's more reasonable one thousand dollar ($1,000) per month minimum fee structure, the Firm's prior $60.50 minimum ticket charge was initially reduced to $45.00 in May of 2012 and then promptly reduced yet again to $29.99 in July 2012.Moreover, upon approval of the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent, the Firm will timely implement its undertaking set forth in §B (1), (2) and (3) with respect to any remaining transaction based charge or fee that may be imposed for services performed or costs incurred by the Firm that is not specifically included as part of reported commissions or markup/markdowns.5: ConclusionWe respectfully submit that the above referenced remedial measures undertaken by Blackbook Capital stand testament to the firm's ongoing objective of maintaining supervisory systems reasonably designed to achieve compliance with respect to the applicable securities laws and regulations and rules of FINRA.Thank you for your continued consideration in this matter . . .
Firms Expelled for Failure to Pay Fines and/or Costs Pursuant to FINRA Rule 8320Blackbook Capital, LLC (CRD #123234)Hillside, New Jersey(June 29, 2016)FINRA Case #2011025700901
Firms Cancelled for Failure to Pay Outstanding Annual Assessment Fee Pursuant to FINRA Rule 9553BlackBook Capital, LLC (CRD #123234)Hillside, New Jersey(July 22, 2016)
SIDE BAR: FRCP Rule 12: Defenses and Objections: When and How Presented; Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; Consolidating Motions; Waiving Defenses; Pretrial Hearing. . .(b) How to Present Defenses. Every defense to a claim for relief in any pleading must be asserted in the responsive pleading if one is required. But a party may assert the following defenses by motion:
(1) lack of subject-matter jurisdiction;(2) lack of personal jurisdiction;(3) improper venue;(4) insufficient process;(5) insufficient service of process;(6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and(7) failure to join a party under Rule 19.
In considering the parties various contentions, DNJ noted that:A motion asserting any of these defenses must be made before pleading if a responsive pleading is allowed. If a pleading sets out a claim for relief that does not require a responsive pleading, an opposing party may assert at trial any defense to that claim. No defense or objection is waived by joining it with one or more other defenses or objections in a responsive pleading or in a motion.
at Page 5 of the DNJ OpinionFINRA contends that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because “Congress set forth the exclusive means for review of final actions in FINRA disciplinary proceedings, which includes a system of appeal first to the SEC and then to the United States Courts of Appeals.” Def. Br. at 15. FINRA continues that this Court lacks jurisdiction because Blackbook waived its right to administrative remedies, including its right to appeal, through the AWC. Id. at 16.
lacks jurisdiction to entertain Plaintiffs’ claims as they relate to the AWC and FINRA’s purported discriminatory enforcement of rules, which ultimately led to the disciplinary proceeding and AWC. If Plaintiffs wanted to challenge FINRA’s application of its regulatory rules, the proper channel would have been to use the comprehensive administrative review process set forth in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. See Mohlman v. Fin. Indus. Regulatory Auth., Inc., No. 19-154, 2020 WL 905269, at *5 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 25, 2020) (explaining that plaintiff that voluntarily entered into an AWC “cannot not ask this Court to reconsider the decision he made . . . several years ago)”.
Notably, Plaintiffs fail to address whether FINRA is entitled to immunity or explain how the Court could legally provide their requested relief. As a result, the Court follows the weight of persuasive authority and concludes that FINRA is entitled to absolute immunity for its regulatory conduct and that there is no private right of action to assert claims related to FINRA’s regulatory conduct. In this instance, Counts One through Six pertain to FINRA’s application of its rules, the decision to accept the AWC and its conduct after Blackbook failed to pay the entire fine. Accordingly, Counts One through Six pertain to FINRA’s regulatory activity and are dismissed.
A constitutional violation can only occur when the alleged wrongful conduct “can properly be ascribed to the government” because the Constitution only “protects against state interference with fundamental rights.” Citizens for Health v. Leavitt, 428 F.3d 167, 177 (3d Cir. 2005). While not directly addressed by the Third Circuit, the Third Circuit has determined that NASD, FINRA’s predecessor, was a private entity, such that its conduct cannot amount to state action. See Epstein v. Sec. Exch. Comm’n, 416 F. App’x 142, 148 (3d Cir. 2010); see also Epstein v. Fin. Indus. Regulatory Auth., Inc., No. 09-1567, 2009 WL 971419, at *4 (D.N.J. Apr. 9, 2009) (concluding that FINRA, “formerly known as NASD, and its employees . . . are not state actors”). Plaintiffs argue that other circuits have determined that FINRA is a state actor and that the Court should also conclude the same. But Plaintiffs provide no authority demonstrating why the Third Circuit would now conclude otherwise and find that FINRA’s conduct amounts to state action. Plfs. MTA Reply at 3. Accordingly, this Court follows the weight of authority within the Third Circuit, and also determines that FINRA is a private entity. Plaintiffs, therefore, cannot bring their constitutional claims against FINRA. Defendant’s motion to dismiss is granted on these grounds for Counts Seven and Eight, and Plaintiffs’ motion to amend is denied. . . .
(BrokeAndBroker.com Blog / December 13, 2019)http://www.brokeandbroker.com/4957/finra-dicken-state/FINRA Schrodinger Cat Is Dead, Alive, And A Zombie (BrokeAndBroker.com Blog / November 7, 2017)
http://www.brokeandbroker.com/3658/turbeville-finra-/Federal Appeals Court Deems FINRA Deputy Of The Federal Government
(BrokeAndBroker.com Blog / November 6, 2017)http://www.brokeandbroker.com/3655/finra-deputy-federal/
[T]o be clear, although the Court is denying Plaintiffs’ motion to file the current proposed amended complaint, it is granting Plaintiffs an opportunity to file another amended complaint that complies with this Opinion. . . .
FINRA maintains that the SAC should be dismissed in its entirety because it contains identical causes of action as the Amended Complaint, which the Court has already dismissed. FINRA contends that the SAC must be dismissed pursuant to the law of the case doctrine, Def. Br. at 16-18, and that res judicata and collateral estoppel bar Plaintiffs from reasserting their previously dismissed claims, id. at 18-20. Plaintiffs do not address these arguments.
Here, Plaintiffs assert the same claims in the SAC as in the Amended Complaint and provide no new factual allegations. Moreover, Plaintiffs’ arguments in opposition to Defendant’s motion to dismiss the SAC are the same arguments that the Court addressed in its August 10, 2020 Opinion, and do not address any new changes in the law. Thus, Plaintiffs failed to fix any of the identified deficiencies from the August 10 Opinion and seek for the Court reconsider its prior arguments. This is precisely what the law of the case doctrine is intended to prevent. As a result, the Court concludes that the parties are bound by the August 10 Opinion, and the SAC is dismissed for the same reasons addressed therein.
[D]efendant Ogele is proceeding pro se, but he is also a licensed attorney whose legal training and experience puts him in a superior position to other pro se plaintiffs as to understanding legal requirements. Because Plaintiffs have seemingly made no effort to address in the SAC the shortcomings noted in the Court’s prior Opinion, the Court infers that Plaintiffs are unable to do so. As a result, any potential amendment would be futile.
at Page 6 of the 2021 DNJ Opinion
Disparate Enforcement by FINRA
Applicants argued that FINRA had engaged in biased and discriminatory enforcement in requiring BlackBook to file FOCUS reports whereas other similarly situated firms were not so compelled. In finding that Applicants had failed to substantiate their claim of disparate treatment, the SEC noted that [Ed: footnotes omitted]:
[A]pplicants have introduced no evidence to support their claim of disparate treatment. As noted above, Applicants have not identified the FINRA member firm they claim was not required to file FOCUS reports. They state only that Ogele discovered the disparate treatment when he was representing another client, a “FINRA member firm similar to BlackBook . . . that was not required to file monthly FOCUS Reports.” Applicants also claim that FINRA staff engaged in additional “discriminatory enforcement” with respect to another FINRA member with which Ogele was associated, but they again fail to substantiate this claim. Nor have Applicants introduced any evidence to support their assertion that FINRA engaged in “active concealment of the facts of the disparate practice.” Although Ogele submitted an affidavit, the affidavit merely repeated the concealment claim and provided the name of a FINRA staffer who was purportedly responsible for the concealment.
In lieu of submitting evidence, Applicants assert that they “intend to fully develop through discovery the factual basis of FINRA’s historical regulatory bias in favor of big firms and powerful individuals” and that such discovery will reveal FINRA’s discriminatory regulatory practices. But we have previously rejected a nearly identical request for discovery related to unsubstantiated allegations that FINRA had acted in a biased manner and had covered up its allegedly improper actions. As we have observed, an applicant is “not entitled to go on a fishing expedition in the hope that something might turn up to aid his defense.”
at Pages 6 - 7 of the 2023 SEC Opinion
FINRA Arbitration Panel Dismisses Something Involving Something Against Wells Fargo by Prominent Whistleblower Analyst
In the Matter of the Arbitration Between David William Maris, Claimant, v. Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Respondent (FINRA Arbitration Award)