Securities and Investment Blog

Arbitration Panel Finds Merrill Lynch Defamed Former Employee
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., a brokerage firm registered with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and investment adviser firm registered with Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”), as well as Merrill Lynch International Finance, Inc. (collectively, the “firms”), have been ordered by an Arbitration Panel to pay former employee, Miguel Andres Ballestas, $750,000.00 in compensatory damages based upon the firms having been found liable for defamation on FINRA Form U5 relating to the circumstances of Ballestas’ termination. (FINRA Office of Dispute Resolution Arbitration Award No....

Ex-citigroup Broker Vindicated With $4m Finra Arbitration Award
A Miami broker, formerly with Citigroup, won a nearly $4 million award in a recent FINRA arbitration case regarding wrongful termination.  Christian Gherardi “worked at Smith Barney and other Citigroup units in Miami from the start of his career in 1996 until he was fired in December 2015.”[1]  Gherardi alleged that Citi fired him because it was afraid he would leave the firm and it wanted to retain his $200 million book of business.            Moreover, Citi was allegedly worried that Gherardi would leave because of a moratorium that had been imposed on the...

Finra’s New Disclosure Reviews May Help Lift Burden For Firms And Representatives
Beginning July 9, 2018, FINRA will conduct an individual public records search on every applicant when a broker-dealer files a form U-4 application for registration.  FINRA currently performs this search for all registered persons—but only annually.  This additional records search—which will satisfy the requirement to perform a search of records for judgments, bankruptcies, and liens only—will provide added benefit to member firms and registered persons, according to FINRA.  In FINRA’s May 18, 2018 Information Notice, FINRA claims this additional search is “likely to: (1) reduce the costs to firms associated...

Missouri Securities Division Bars Two Former Owners Of Local Broker-dealer
Steven Larson and Michael Standley owned Oakbridge Financial Services along with Kathy Winter.  All three of them functioned as registered representatives of the broker-dealer as well.  The three were also associated with a state registered investment adviser, Private Label Money Management (PPMM).  Late last year Winter agreed to pay a small fine and submit to heightened supervision due to her alleged administrative failures as president of PPMM.  She was also barred from operating as a supervisor for either a broker-dealer of RIA for two years.  Not long before that, Winter had been suspended by FINRA...

When You Get A Letter From The State Securities Division
If you receive a letter demanding information and documentation from a state securities division, I hope you find this blog before you rifle off a response.  As a former Commissioner of Securities, I am frequently retained by individuals who are the subject of a state securities division investigation.  Unfortunately, and far too often, the individuals hire me after they have sent in a response to the initial demand letter.  Some even wait until after they have been through a recorded interrogation at the division. A request for information is not a friendly or harmless inquiry. ...