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Articles Posted in Annuities

David Adam Rookasin of Monroe, Connecticut submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for allegedly engaging in private transactions in violation of FINRA Rules 2320(g)(1) and 2010.

From October 2012 to August 2017, David Adam Rookasin was registered with UBS as a General Securities Representative. According to FINRA, Rookasin recommended that a customer exchange a $1.3 million fixed rate annuity that his firm rejected. The findings stated that upon the rejection, Rookasin helped another representative at a different firm in executing the transaction after the customer opened the account. The findings also stated that he stayed involved in the transactions by being the point of contact between the representative and customer. In addition, Rookasin never notified his firm of this arrangement and received half of the commission in the amount of $50,318.86. Continue Reading

Geoffrey Colin Turner, of Tybee Island, Georgia, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in which he was fined and suspended for recommending certain L-share variable annuities.

In October 2006, Turner joined BB&T as a General Securities Principal. During the period of December 2014, through June 2015 Turner allegedly recommended certain L-share variable annuities to 15 customers without having a reasonable belief these recommendations were suitable. According to FINRA, Turner recommended his customers purchase higher-cost share class contracts without understanding the costs and benefits. The findings stated that Turner did not understand that the L-share class would be more expensive than the B-share class for customers who held their annuities for at least seven years. The findings also stated that Turner was unable to inform his customers of the various features of the products due to his lack of understanding the L-share class annuities. Continue Reading

Roger Zullo, a former registered representative with LPL Financial LLC, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for refusing to produce information and documents requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into allegations of fraud, falsifying client suitability profiles and unsuitable variable annuity sales.  FINRA’s investigation arose from a complaint, and subsequent Consent Order, by the Massachusetts Securities Division against Mr. Zullo and LPL Financial.

FINRA began an investigation in January 2017 following allegations made in the complaint filed by the Massachusetts Securities Division.  That complaint alleged that Mr. Zullo, of Boston, Massachusetts, “fabricated the financial suitability profiles of numerous LPL clients, selling them scores of large, illiquid, unsuitable, high-commission variable annuities, at substantial upfront profits to himself and LPL.”  Further, the complaint alleged that Mr. Zullo prematurely switched out his clients’ existing annuities (which were also sold by Mr. Zullo), caused unnecessary surrender charges, and disregarded his clients’ investment profiles at an enormous profit to himself and LPL. The complaint states, “Over the course of three years, Zullo and LPL received more than $1,825,000 in variable annuity commissions alone; of this amount, more than $1,791,000, or 98%, represented commissions from the sale of the same annuity product, the Polaris Platinum III (B Shares) variable annuity.” Continue Reading

Walter Marino, a previously registered broker with Legend Equities Corporation, was named a Respondent in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) complaint alleging that he recommended unsuitable variable annuity replacements (also known as exchanges) to two customers, allegedly causing one customer to incur a surrender charge of $85,523.23.

According to the FINRA complaint, Walter Joseph Marino, of Dix Hills, New York, had no reasonable basis for his recommendation of replacements for his customers’ non-qualified variable annuities.  The complaint alleges that both customers suffered substantial losses as a result of his recommendation.  For instance, one customer incurred significant tax liabilities due to Mr. Marino’s failure to use the tax-free exchange available under the IRS Code.  Further, as mentioned above, another customer is alleged to have suffered a surrender charge of more than $85,000.   Mr. Marino, on the other hand, allegedly received commissions of approximately $60,000 for recommending the unsuitable transactions. Continue Reading

Stanley Niekras, a previously registered broker with MML Investors Services, LLC (MML), was named a Respondent in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) complaint alleging that he misrepresented to his customers, a 90 and 91 year old married couple, that he was entitled to over $70,000 for purported estate and financial planning services when he had no financial planning or advisory agreement with the elderly couple.

According to the FINRA complaint, Stanley Clayton Niekras, of Watertown, New York, allegedly presented the elderly couple, who were declining both physically and mentally, with bills claiming he had spent more than 264 hours working on their estate and was entitled to retroactive compensation at a rate of $250 an hour.  The bill, which Mr. Niekras allegedly presented to the couple on MML letterhead, was for $72,636.18 and was “due upon receipt.”  Continue Reading

Houston, Texas-based VALIC Financial Advisors, Inc. (VALIC) was hit with a $1.75 million fine by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to prevent compensation conflicts.  VALIC is alleged to have incentivized its registered representatives to sell its own annuities and discouraged them from selling non-proprietary products.

FINRA found that from October 2011 to October 2014, VALIC failed to maintain a reasonable supervisory system to address the potential conflicts of interest created by its compensation policy, which incentivized its representatives for recommending that customers move funds from VALIC variable annuities to the firm’s fee-based platform or a VALIC fixed index annuity.  Further, FINRA found that VALIC made the compensation conflict worse by prohibiting its representatives from receiving compensation when moving customer funds from a VALIC variable annuity to a non-VALIC variable annuity, mutual fund or other non-VALIC product. Continue Reading

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