Articles Posted in Brokerage Firms In The News

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Citigroup Global Markets Inc., (Citigroup) submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent in which the firm consented to, but it did not admit to or deny, the described sanctions and the entry of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that it failed to deliver prospectuses with respect to the sales of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to its investor customers.

According to FINRA, Citigroup failed to deliver prospectuses for nearly 255,000 investor purchases of approximately 160 ETFs over a three-month period. Further, FINRA found that from 2009 through April 2011, Citigroup may have failed to deliver prospectuses for more than 1.5 million purchases of ETFs by investors. Moreover, Citigroup’s supervisory system failed to achieve compliance with Federal securities laws with regard to prospectus-delivery requirements, especially since the firm allegedly detected certain failures back in 2009. Continue reading →

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Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was fined $138,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to supervise corporate bond transactions. Without admitting or denying the findings, Newbridge consented to FINRA’s sanctions and to the entry of findings that it sold corporate bonds to investors and failed to sell the bonds at a fair price, considering the relevant circumstances, like market conditions.

FINRA found that Newbridge failed to conduct proper due diligence with respect to the best inter-dealer market and thereby failed to buy or sell the corporate bonds in a market which would result in a price to its investors which was as favorable as possible.
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Popular Securities, Inc. n/k/a Popular Securities, LLC, was fined $125,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failure to supervise violations involving over-concentration of investments in Puerto Rico municipal bonds and closed-end bond funds in many of its customers’ accounts.

Without admitting or denying the findings, Popular consented to the sanctions and to FINRA’s findings that between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013, it failed to supervise its customers’ Puerto Rico bond fund investments, even after the bond rating had been downgraded to junk bond status. Following the junk bond downgrade, FINRA found that Popular Securities’ customers continued to purchase concentrated positions of the Puerto Rico securities. Continue reading →

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The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has ordered Boca Raton, Florida resident Isaiah Goldman and Delray Beach, Florida resident Brock Catronio, along with their companies Paramount Metals Exchange, LLC and Paramount Credit, LLC (collectively Paramount), to pay more than $2.5 million in sanctions for illegal off-exchange precious metals fraud.

The CFTC Order states that Isaiah Goldman (Goldman), Brock Catronio (Catronio) and Paramount solicited investors to make cash purchases of precious metals, falsely representing how the physical metals would be held on the investors’ behalf. According to the Order, Goldman, Catronio and Paramount treated the metals transactions as financed purchases, with the investor only paying a portion of the purchase price, and then taking out a loan for the balance of the purchase price. Continue reading →

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Girard Securities, Inc. (Girard Securities) is the subject of a massive audit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The primary focus of the audit will be on the supervision of the registered representatives and financial advisors in its branch offices. With over 230 producing registered reps and financial advisors, the big question is, How will Girard Securities fare under the microscope of the SEC?

Girard Securities has been acquired by RCS Capital Corp., an acquisition awaiting the approval of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Approval is expected at the end of February, according to a memo from Girard Securities’ Chairperson and Chief Executive, Susie Woltman Tietjen. RCS Capital Corp.’s purchase of Girard Securities, plus its August 2014 purchase of VSR Financial, with its 264 registered representatives and financial advisors, means that RCS Capital Corp. will have nearly 9,700 registered reps and advisors! It appears that the SEC is right on target with its audit priority of branch office supervision! Continue reading →

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As part of concurrent settlements with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (Oppenheimer) has admitted it is guilty and agreed to pay $20 million for engaging in unregistered sales of penny stocks.

According to the SEC Order, one Oppenheimer Financial Advisor and his immediate supervisor, an Oppenheimer Branch Office Manager, engaged in the sales of 2.5 billion shares of unregistered penny stocks for an investor customer. Those trades generated $12 million, of which Oppenheimer was paid $588,400 in commissions. The SEC Order states further that Oppenheimer personnel was aware of red flags indicative of illegal unregistered penny stock trades and failed to property follow up on those warning signs. Further, Oppenheimer failed to supervise its employees by failing to establish procedures to ensure its employees comply with Section 5 of the Securities Act. Continue reading →

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Parkland Securities, LLC (Parkland) f/k/a Sammons Securities Company, LLC, was fined $100,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for numerous failure to supervise violations. Without admitting or denying the findings, Parkland consented to the sanctions and to FINRA’s findings.

FINRA found that Parkland relied too heavily upon an outside entity with a limited number of persons to conduct all of the supervisory and compliance functions for its 1,274 registered representatives and 854 branch offices. Also, FINRA found that Parkland’s system for reviewing its employees’ emails was inadequate, as was its system for the supervision of its customers’ confidential information, such as ensuring its representatives were using passwords, anti-virus software and anti-spyware tools. Continue reading →

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fined 13 brokerage firms, including Charles Schwab, J.P. Morgan, Oppenheimer, TD Ameritrade, and UBS Financial, for violating a rule that is meant to protect investors from improper sales of high-risk Puerto Rican municipal bonds. The fines range from $54,000 to $130,000.

The SEC sanctions are the first under the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) Rule G-15(f), which establishes the minimum denomination requirement for the sales of municipal bonds. The minimum denomination amounts are the least amount of a given municipal bond that a broker dealer is permitted to sell to an investor in one transaction. The more risky the bond, the higher the minimum. This is meant to ensure that the bond investments are suited to the appropriate investor. Continue reading →

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined Merrill Lynch $6 million for Regulation SHO (Reg SHO) violations and failures to supervise. According to FINRA’s announcement on October 27, 2014, it censured and fined Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. (Merrill Lynch PRO) $3.5 million for violating Reg SHO, which is an SEC rule governing short sales and aimed at preventing abusive naked short selling. Additionally, FINRA also censured and fined Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. (Merrill Lynch) $2.5 million for inadequate supervisory practices.

According to FINRA, from September 2008 through July 2012, Merrill Lynch PRO failed to take action to close out certain fail-to-deliver positions, as required under Reg SHO. Further, Merrill Lynch PRO did not have appropriate systems and procedures in place to address the Reg SHO close-out requirements during most of the time period. Continue reading →