Articles Posted in Firm Investigations

FINRA has suspended Aegis Capital broker Gilbert Kuta from the securities industry for ten days for exercising discretion without written authorization in customers’ accounts, in violation of NASD Rule 2510(b) and FINRA Rule 2010.

The alleged misconduct is said to have taken place from December 2017 through June 2018 while Mr. Kuta was registered with Capitol Securities Management, Inc. Mr. Kuta was also fined $5,000.

Mr. Kuta’s suspension is scheduled to begin on August 16, 2021, and end on August 27, 2021.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is investigating potential claims involving investments in L Bonds offered by GWG Holdings (Nasdaq: GWGH).

On July 26, 2021, GWG Holdings canceled its Combined 2020/2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders originally convened and adjourned on May 28, 2021.

Prior to this cancellation, on July 7, 2021, Nasdaq warned GWG Holdings that it risked the potential delisting of its stock over the company’s failure to hold an annual meeting of shareholders and file its most recent Forms 10-K and 10-Q on time.

FINRA has suspended Fusion Analytics Securities, LLC’s former Chief Compliance Officer Luis Fernando Restrepo from the securities industry for a six-month period over compliance and supervisory failures related to, among other things, the sale of private placements. Mr. Restrepo consented to a six-month suspension from associating with any FINRA member in all principal capacities and will have to requalify as a principal prior to acting in that capacity with any FINRA member.

During his association with Fusion, Mr. Restrepo was the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer (AMLCO).

Mr. Restrepo’s suspension is scheduled to begin on August 2, 2021, and end on February 1, 2022.

FINRA has barred former LPL Financial LLC broker Jason LaBelle from the securities industry. Mr. LaBelle was expelled from the brokerage industry for failing to provide information requested pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210, in connection with a FINRA investigation of Mr. LaBelle’s possible violation of a prior AWC.

Back in January 2020, FINRA accepted an AWC in which Mr. LaBelle consented to the entry of findings that, while associated with LPL, he participated in an outside business activity without having provided prior written notice to his firm. The AWC suspended Mr. LaBelle from associating with any FINRA member firm in all capacities for three months and imposed a $5,000 fine.

By refusing to produce information and documents, Mr. LaBelle violated FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has barred financial advisor Enoch Booth from the securities industry for refusing to cooperate with a FINRA investigation into whether Mr. Booth engaged in unauthorized private securities transactions and outside business activities.  FINRA launched the investigation after Valic Financial Advisors, Inc. terminated Mr. Booth’s employment in December 2020 and alleged that Mr. Booth failed to disclose a series of private securities transactions, failed to disclose a self-directed IRA, and provided gift cards to clients in violation of firm policy.  Mr. Booth was associated with Valic Financial Advisors, Inc. in Columbia, South Carolina, from May 2001, until December 2020.

When a financial advisor participates in a private securities transaction that is not approved by a firm, it is referred to as “selling away.”  The prohibitions on selling away are designed to protect investors by ensuring that all brokers’ activities are reasonably supervised by firms that employ them.  Further, securities that are sold away from a firm have not been vetted by the firm.

Customers of Mr. Booth or Valic Financial Advisors, Inc. that have suffered financial losses can contact New York securities arbitration law firm Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential consultation and review of their legal rights.

StockCross Financial Services, Inc. (“StockCross Financial”), which was acquired by Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. (“Muriel Siebert”), consented to a censure and $250,000 fine in connection with FINRA’s findings that between July 2009 and December 2019, StockCross Financial had no reasonable surveillance system to review solicited transactions for excessive trading and suitability.

Iorio Altamirano LLP represents investors nationwide that have disputes with their financial advisors or brokerage firms, such as StockCross Financial Services, Inc.

If you have lost money with StockCross Financial Services, Inc., contact New York securities arbitration lawyers Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential consultation and review of your legal rights.

FINRA has fined and censured Laidlaw & Company (UK) Ltd. (“Laidlaw”) over the firm’s supervisory system, which according to the regulator, was not reasonably designed to achieve compliance with federal securities laws and FINRA rules prohibiting market manipulation. As a result, Laidlaw was fined $1.5 million.

Additionally, the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”) was suspended from association with any FINRA member firm in any principal capacity for two months. He received a $15,000 fine.

Laidlaw also consented to provide a certification that the firm has enhanced its supervisory system and written supervisory procedures in ways that are reasonably expected to address the areas of conduct outlined by FINRA. Laidlaw must provide the certification to FINRA within 60 days.

FINRA has fined and censured NEXT Financial Group, Inc. (“NEXT”) over supervisory failures related to unsuitable short-term trading of mutual funds and municipal bonds, and over-concentration of customer accounts in Puerto Rican municipal bonds.

NEXT was fined $750,000 and consented to provide a certification to FINRA, within 120 days, regarding the implementation of reasonably designed procedures to address its supervisory failures.

Iorio Altamirano LLP represents investors nationwide that have disputes with their financial advisors or brokerage firms, such as NEXT Financial Group, Inc.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has suspended former Aegis Capital Corp. financial advisor Douglas Szempruch from the securities industry for 12 months.  Mr. Szempruch consented to the suspension after FINRA alleged that between August 2014 and June 2017, while associated with Aegis Capital Corp., he (1) recommended and executed excessive and unsuitable trades in six customer accounts; (2) exercised discretionary authority without prior written authorization to effect trade in seven accounts; and (3) sent email communications containing misleading statements about an investment opportunity from his firm-approved email account. FINRA also ordered Mr. Szempruch to pay nearly $100,00 in restitution to customers.   However, it is unclear whether Mr. Szempruch will be able to satisfy the restitution order.

Mr. Szempruch, who was associated with Aegis Capital Corp. (“Aegis Capital”) from June 2011 to June 2021, is the sixth Aegis broker, or former broker, to be disciplined by FINRA this year.  Separately, in March 2021, the firm itself was sanctioned by FINRA and ordered to pay restitution to customers.

Customers of Mr. Szempruch or Aegis Capital, including customers that have been notified that they may be receiving restitution, should consult with a securities arbitration law firm.  If you or a loved one were a customer of Douglas Szempruch or Aegis Capital, contact  New York securities arbitration law firm Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential consultation and review of your legal rights.

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