On July 30 Robert Russel Tweed of Glendale, California appealed an Office of Hearing Officers (OHO) decision to the National Adjudicatory Council (NAC) in which he was fined $50,000 and barred from association with any FINRA member in all capacities for allegedly in violating FINRA Rule 2010 and Sections 17(a)(2) and (3) of the securities act of 1933. The sanctions are not in effect, pending review of the OHO decision by the NAC. Continue Reading
Kenny Danny Mezher a former registered stockbroker with Growth Capital Services, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) in which he was assessed a deferred fine of $5,000 and suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for a period of two months for allegedly participating in private transactions.
On April 22, 2016, Kenny Mezher joined Growth Capital Services (GCS) as a General Securities Representative. He remained associated with the Firm until his termination on April 11, 2017. According to FINRA, between January 2017 and March 2017, Mezher participated in four private securities transactions in violation of FINRA Rules 3280 and 2010. The findings stated that while with GCS, he was also employed by a now-defunct hedge fund called Crescent Ridge Capital Partners. Mezher allegedly sold four limited partnership interest totaling $179,500 to five investors of whom were his family and friends without providing notice or approval from his firm. Continue Reading
Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation (LFA) of Fort Wayne, Indiana submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) to the Department of Enforcement of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for allegedly failing to implement and enforce reasonable supervisory procedures related to the recommendation of private placement variable annuities (PPVA). LFA has been a FINRA member since 1969 and has nearly 2,500 registered representatives and over 500 branch offices.
FINRA found that between October 2008 and April 2009, representatives from two of LFA’s branch offices recommended customers to invest in a hedge fund that engaged in a complex option trading strategy. FINRA alleged that the complexity of the hedge fund exposed the LFA clients to a high degree of financial risk. LFA however approved the recommendations and 25 firm customers invested approximately $11.7 million in the hedge fund. In 2010, the hedge fund was shut down.
Fox Financial Management Corporation (Fox Financial) of Carrollton, Texas, Brian Murphy of Frisco, Texas and James Rooney of Carrolton, Texas were all fined and suspended by the Department of Enforcement for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for allegedly failing to supervise a registered representative and for failing to establish, maintain and enforce written supervisory procedures.
Fox Financial’s primary business was selling private placements in real estate investment trusts (REITs) and life insurance settlement funds (viaticals) issued by a Fox Financial affiliate. Rooney and Murphy were both General Securities Principals and General Securities Representatives. Rooney was the firm’s President from 2005 until Fox Financial ceased to be a FINRA member. Murphy was Fox Financial’s Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) from 2008 until Fox Financial ceased to be a FINRA member. Rooney and Murphy shared supervisory responsibilities for Fox Financial registered representatives. Continue Reading
Timothy Dembski, of Lancaster, New York, and Walter Grenda Jr., of Buffalo, New York, were named in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) complaint alleging that they fraudulently induced customers to invest in a hedge fund, the Prestige Wealth Management Fund, LP.
The FINRA complaint alleges that Timothy Dembski and Walter Grenda Jr. led investors to believe that the Prestige Wealth Management Fund (Prestige Fund) was a growth fund and was based on a computer algorithm, which included risk protections and stop-losses, to limit investor losses in the hedge fund. However, FINRA alleged that the Prestige Fund was a speculative, aggressive investment, was not obligated to follow the computer algorithm, and lost over 80% of its value in its last full month! Mr. Dembski and Mr. Grenda allegedly recommended the Prestige Fund to investors with limited investment experience, who had never invested in hedge funds before, and who used their retirement assets to invest in the fund. Continue Reading
John Warren DuBrule, a former Orlando, Florida registered principal employed by Altamonte Springs, Florida-based Merrimac Corporate Securities, Inc., submitted an Offer of Settlement in which he consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the entry of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he engaged in securities fraud by knowingly causing the distribution of summary quarterly statements that contained false information about the valuation of a hedge fund in willful violation of industry rules and regulations. FINRA found that Mr. DuBrule allegedly inflated the value of the fund’s assets on its quarterly statements by including the face value and promised interest of defaulted promissory notes as assets of the fund. FINRA found that the quarterly statements falsely inflated the value of investors’ interests in the fund. Further, that the summary quarterly statements contained false and misleading statements that the fund utilized the services of an independent firm to prepare statements and tax reports, and that they were prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). According to FINRA, Mr. DuBrule allegedly failed to disclose that the valuation of the fund was also based on defaulted and cancelled promissory notes. Mr. DuBrule allegedly misappropriated investor funds by withdrawing the funds despite knowing that the promissory notes had been cancelled and the fund’s value had decreased substantially. Mr. DuBrule allegedly made materially false and misleading statements and omissions to customers to entice them to invest $3.8 million into the fund. Consequently, John DuBrule was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged hedge fund advisory firm Weston Capital Asset Management LLC (Weston Capital), of West Palm Beach, FL, and its founder and president, Albert Hallac, for allegedly shifting money from one investment to another without informing investors and investing contrary to the hedge fund’s stated investment strategy. The SEC complaint states that Albert Hallac, with the assistance of Weston Capital’s former general counsel Keith Wellner, allegedly drained over $17 million from a hedge fund they managed, Wimbledon Fund SPC Class TT Segregated Portfolio (TT Portfolio) and transferred the funds to Swartz IP Services Group, Inc. (Swartz IP), a consulting and investment firm.
Timothy Damien Moran, a former Paradise Valley, Arizona-based broker employed by Atlanta, Georgia-based FSC Securities Corporation, has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) based on findings that Mr. Moran engaged in private securities transactions without providing his firm with prior written notice. FINRA’s findings stated that Mr. Moran introduced firm customers to a Thomas Hampton to discuss possible investment in Mr. Hamptons’ hedge fund, Hampton Capital Management (HCM). Mr. Moran recommended that the customers invest, or consider investing, in HCM. Some of the customers who Mr. Moran introduced to the individual invested approximately $1.69 million. Mr. Moran also invested a total of $150,000 in HCM.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Merrill Lynch with false and misleading disclosures relating to two collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and false records relating to a third CDO. Merrill Lynch settled the case for $131.8 million simultaneous with the filing of the SEC’s charges. According to the SEC, Merrill Lynch hid important facts from investors about a hedge fund known as Magnetar Capital, LLC and its involvement over the selection of collateral for the CDOs Octans I CDO Ltd. and Norma CDO I Ltd. Magnetar had undisclosed conflicts of interest. It bought the equity in the CDOs and hedged that equity position by shorting against the CDOs themselves.