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Merrill Lynch Broker Permanently Barred by FINRA for Unauthorized Trades and Unsuitable Recommendations

Thomas Joseph Buck, a former registered representative with the Carmel, Indiana branch of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the sanction and the entry of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he made unsuitable account recommendations and exercised discretion in clients’ accounts.

Thomas Buck, of Carmel, Indiana, allegedly conducted business under the designation “The Buck Group” with more than 3,000 accounts and $1.3 billion under management. According to FINRA, Mr. Buck neglected to adequately assess the suitability of the fee structure for certain clients – using commission-based accounts when it would have been less expensive for the clients to maintain fee-based accounts. FINRA found that in some instances, Mr. Buck’s clients paid substantially more in commissions than they would have if they were in fee-based accounts. Further, Mr. Buck allegedly misled clients about the potential advantages of fee-based accounts so that the clients remained in the higher-cost commission-based accounts. Mr. Buck also made unauthorized trades in certain customer accounts, allegedly neglecting to get the customers or Merrill Lynch’s prior written authorization as required by FINRA Rule 2010. Consequently, Mr. Buck was permanently barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.

Stockbrokers and other financial industry professionals have been known to engage in many types of fraudulent and unlawful behavior, such as unsuitable recommendations and unauthorized trades, which violate industry rules and procedures. In order to protect investors from stockbroker misconduct, FINRA rules require brokerage firms to establish and implement a supervisory system. The implementation of the rules requires supervisors to monitor employees to ensure they comply with federal and state securities laws, securities industry rules and regulations, as well as the brokerage firm’s own policies and procedures. If broker-dealers and their supervisors do not establish and implement these protective measures, they may be held liable to investors for losses flowing from the misconduct. As a result, investors who have suffered losses stemming from a stockbroker or registered representative’s unsuitable account recommendations or unauthorized trades can bring forth claims to recover damages against brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch, which have a duty to supervise its employees in order to prevent broker misconduct.

Have you suffered losses in your Merrill Lynch investment account due to your broker’s unsuitable recommendations or unauthorized transactions? If so, call Robert Pearce at the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. for a free consultation. Mr. Pearce is accepting clients with valid claims against Merrill Lynch stockbrokers for unsuitable account recommendations, unauthorized trades, and other types of stockbroker misconduct.

The most important of investors’ rights is the right to be informed! This Investors’ Rights blog post is by the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., located in Boca Raton, Florida. For over 35 years, Attorney Pearce has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of disputes involving complex securities, commodities, and investment law issues. The lawyers at our law firm are devoted to protecting investors’ rights throughout the United States and internationally! Please post a comment, call (800) 732-2889, send Mr. Pearce an email at pearce@rwpearce.com, and/or visit our website at www.secatty.com for answers to any of your questions about this blog post and/or any related matter.