Articles Posted in Broker Misconduct

In recent court filings, Emerson Equity LLC has disclosed that it has paid over $2.1 million in attorney fees and arbitration costs through January 1, 2024, to defend itself from more than 60 customer complaints related to its sale of GWG L Bonds. In addition, according to public disclosure reports for its brokers, Emerson Equity LLC has paid over $4.2 million in settlements in 2023 and the first few days of 2024.

The customer complaints are primarily FINRA securities arbitration complaints that were brought by GWG L Bond investors who were sold speculative, high-risk, illiquid, high-commission, and unrated GWG L Bonds by the firm’s brokers, including Tony Barouti. More than half of Emerson Equity’s GWG L Bond-related customer disputes arise out of recommendations made by Mr. Barouti.

Although Emerson Equity’s legal fees and settlements have surpassed $6 million, the cost represents less than one-third of the $20.1 million that the firm received from GWG Holdings Inc. for brokerage services from June 2018 through June 2022.

Iorio Altamirano LLP and its experienced GWG Holdings L Bonds attorneys, representing retail investors nationwide, continue to investigate and file claims against Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc. for its sale of speculative, high-risk, illiquid, high-commission, and unrated GWG L Bonds to retail investors.

The law firm’s investigation is ongoing after three separate arbitration panels awarded investors damages in connection with the sale of L Bonds by their financial advisors and firms.

In addition to these arbitration awards, brokerage firms have settled cases with investors who have filed arbitration claims. According to our law firm’s review of public disclosure reports of individual brokers, Ausdal Financial Partners and/or its brokers have been the subject of at least 26 customer disputes connected with its sale of GWG L Bonds to retail investors. Of the 26 disclosed disputes, 12 are still pending, and 14 have been settled. The cases that have been settled have recovered an average of approximately 41% of the alleged damages, with a range of recoveries primarily between 30 and 70%. Some of these matters involved a variety of securities in addition to GWG L Bonds.

On February 15, 2024, the GWG Wind Down Trust filed a status report with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas for the quarter ending December 31, 2023. Although the status report did not include an updated financial statement, there are several key takeaways:

  • The GWG Wind Down Trust has sold two of its three tangible assets for a total of approximately $10.58 million.
  • The sale of its life insurance policy portfolio generated $10 million in cash.

Iorio Altamirano LLP and its experienced GWG Holdings L Bonds attorneys continue to investigate and file claims against Centaurus Financial for its sale of risky and speculative GWG L Bonds to mom-and-pop investors.

The law firm’s investigation is ongoing after two separate FINRA arbitration panels awarded investors damages in connection with the sale of L Bonds by their brokers and brokerage firms. In the first case, an arbitration panel in Los Angeles, California, held two brokers liable for their negligence in selling GWG L Bonds to an investor and awarded over $1 million in damages. In the second case, a FINRA arbitration panel in Boston, Massachusetts, awarded an investor $280,000 in damages, finding that brokerage firm Ages Financial Services, LTD was liable for not properly informing the investor about the risks of GWG L Bonds.

Iorio Altamirano LLP represents dozens of GWG L Bond investors across the country and encourages investors who are taking a “wait and see approach” to act now.   As the GWG Wind Trustee begins to liquidate GWG’s assets, it is becoming more evident that the GWG L Bonds, now the New Series A1 WDT Interests, are nearly worthless.

An elderly couple in their upper 80s filed a FINRA arbitration claim against David Lerner Associates, Inc. (“David Lerner Associates”) to recover losses and damages of up to $1 million. The couple, represented by securities arbitration law firm Iorio Altamirano LLP, alleges that David Lerner Associates recommended an unsuitable investment strategy to invest and concentrate a significant portion of their retirement savings and net worth into risky and high-commission energy-sector securities that were proprietary to David Lerner Associates, Inc.: (1) Energy 11, L.P. (“Energy 11”); (2) Energy Resources 12, L.P. (“Energy 12”); and the Spirit of America  Energy Fund (“SOAEX”).

The arbitration claim also alleges that David Lerner Associates and its broker, Robert Rasbach, misrepresented and omitted material information about the investment strategy and the energy investments, including:

  • That investing in Energy 11 and Energy 12 involved a “high degree of risk” and was only appropriate for investors willing and able to assume the risk of a “speculative, illiquid, and long-term investment.”


When disputes arise between investors and brokerage firms, they are usually resolved through arbitration.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers a streamlined and cost-effective dispute resolution forum for resolving disputes in the securities industry. In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into FINRA arbitration, its key features, benefits, and what you should know if you find yourself involved in a securities-related dispute.

Understanding FINRA Arbitration

On August 1, 2023, GWG Holdings, Inc.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan (the “Plan”) went into effect.

As part of the Plan, GWG will be liquidated, and two liquidating trusts have been created: (i) the Wind Down Trust and (ii) the Litigation Trust.

As a result of the Plan going into effect, all securities issued by GWG, including GWG L Bonds, were canceled. L Bondholders received “New Series A1 WDT Interests” in the Wind Down Trusts.

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, Jeffrey Lash, a former executive of GPB Capital Holdings, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in federal court in Brooklyn, NY.

In 2021, a federal grand jury brought criminal charges against Lash, David Gentile (founder and owner of GPB Capital), and a third individual, Jeffry Schneider. The charges are related to their management of the company, which has been described as a “Ponzi-like scheme.” In February 2021, the SEC also charged GPB Capital, Ascendant Capital, and Ascendant Alternative Strategies with running a Ponzi-like scheme that raised roughly $1.7 billion from over 17,000 investors, many of whom were retirees.

The criminal complaint alleged that Mr. Gentile, Mr. Lash, and Mr. Schneider used new money invested by retail investors to cover the promised 8% returns to prior investors, yet failed to disclose the source of the distributions to investors.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has suspended former Morgan Stanley broker Michael R. Neill from the securities industry for one month and fined him $5,000. Mr. Neill consented to the suspension after FINRA alleged that Mr. Neill violated FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010 by altering representative codes for 219 trades from January 2014 through March 2018, causing Morgan Stanley to maintain inaccurate books and records.

Origination of the Matter

This case originated from FINRA’s review of the Form U5 (Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration) that was filed by Morgan Stanley after it terminated Mr. Neill.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged former Aegis Capital Corp. broker Surage Kamal Roshan Perera and his firm, Janues Capital Incorporated, with fraud and obtaining emergency relief in court, including a temporary restraining order and an asset freeze. The SEC alleges that from February 2022 until March 2023, the Bellrose, NY broker defrauded at least one investor out of millions of dollars by lying about investment opportunities and strategies concerning training losses and using funds received from others to give the victim the promised returns in a Ponzi-like scheme. According to his public disclosure report, Mr. Perera was registered as an investment broker with Aegis Capital Corp until September 12, 2022.

In a separate action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York filed criminal charges against Mr. Perera. He was arrested on Monday, March 27, 2023, and arraigned on a 16-count indictment charging him with securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, in connection with a scheme to induce an investor to purchase stock in companies that traded on the NASDAQ and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Customers of Mr. Perera or Aegis Capital Corp. who have suffered financial losses as a result of Mr. Perera’s negligence or misconduct can contact New York securities arbitration law firm Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential consultation and review of their legal rights.

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