Rep Wins Expungement of Customer Complaint about Tax Consequences of Cashed-Out Inherited Annuity. In the Matter of the Arbitration Between Steven Craig Henningson, Claimant, v. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, Respondent (FINRA Arbitration Decision)
A new study from the nonprofit PIABA Foundation will expose a troubling and large-scale pattern of abuse of the "expungement" process that brokers can use to erase investor disputes from public records. Reviewing the handling of nearly 2,200 investor complaints between 2015 and 2018, the PIABA Foundation finds the expungement system is being manipulated by brokers, attorneys, and brokerage firms to eliminate references to misconduct, cut out investor input, and rig the process so that brokers can wipe away past abuses resulting in the avoidance of more than $8,000 in costs per filing that have led to FINRA subsidizing often bogus expungement proceedings by about $6 million.
in which investors are largely sidelined allows brokers to present false and misleading information in order to erase their misconduct. Not only does what has degenerated into a "get out of jail free" process make a mockery of FINRA arbitration, it also destroys, among other things, the reliability of the FINRA BrokerCheck system, which investors are urged to consult to learn about the background of brokers and brokerage firms. The report will outline a range of major steps that must be taken immediately to halt the growing problem of abuse of the FINRA expungement process. (Recent minor adjustments made by FINRA to the expungement regimen do not begin to address the fundamentally flawed and widely abused process.)
The Customer was one of the joint beneficiaries of her father's estate which included an annuity from "The Hartford". The Customer and her sister were joint and equal beneficiaries of this annuity. The Customer's father died in 2008. The Customers' sister rolled her portion of the inherited annuity into a "beneficiary annuity" or IRA. The Customer elected to take a cash settlement for her share. Later in the year (October 10, 2008), the Customer filed a subject complaint with Respondent indicating that she was not informed that she "had 60 days after taking lump sum distribution on her father's annuity accounts . . . to reverse the decision." The statement placed on the Claimant's form U4 states the allegation as "client alleges that the rep failed to discuss transfer of deceased account to a tax favorable account in January 2008.Claimant met with the Customer and her sister twice after the passing of their father to discuss the distribution of their inherited assets. These meetings were held on January 10 and 15, 2008. Testimony indicates that Claimant discussed options for minimizing tax consequences that could occur by cashing out the inherited annuities, and he recommended options for reinvesting the assets to minimize tax consequences. Claimant provided the Customer and her sister documentation to transfer the annuities to beneficiary annuities with The Hartford. Claimant also advised both the Customer and her sister that they should consult with a CPA or Tax Attorney prior to making any decisions.The Customer's sister followed Claimant's recommendations, but the Customer decided to cash out her share of the inherited annuities with The Hartford. Claimant indicated during oral testimony that he was not involved with the Customer's filing the necessary application with The Hartford to receive a cash out payment. He further indicated he was not aware of any issues the Customer had until her complaint letter was filed in October 2008.The Customer was made aware when she completed The Hartford request for a lump sum payment that there could be tax consequences and that the decision to receive a lump sum payout was final and not reversible. The second sentence of the application form for lump sum payment indicates: "Please note that this will be reported as a death distribution to the IRS and may have a taxable portion". The Customer also elected to not have any federal taxes withheld as part of the payout that was an available option. The lump sum payment form also clearly states that once the payment has been made it is not reversible.Respondent investigated the Customer's complaint and concluded it was unmerited and denied the claim. The Customer did not file any further legal action after Respondent denied her claim. The Customer elected not to provide oral or written testimony at the hearing.
conspired and engaged in a coordinated stock manipulation scheme that artificially influenced the prices of publicly traded securities by making others in the market believe that there was trading interest and activity in particular stocks. In reality, no such interest or trading activity existed, and the defendants profited from the price movements they caused.The alleged scheme targeted "thinly-traded" securities, which are securities with a low trading volume that are volatile and highly responsive to buying/selling activity. The defendants are alleged to have placed (or coordinated the placement of) thousands of non-bona fide purchase/sell orders in order to move stock prices up or down. After the prices moved and the defendants purchased/sold the securities at the artificially higher/lower prices, the initial orders were cancelled. Defendants and their co-conspirators are alleged to have profited millions of dollars as a result of the stock price spoofing scheme.
[C]etera Advisor Networks breached its fiduciary duty and defrauded retail advisory clients by, among other things, failing to disclose conflicts of interest related to the firm's receipt of undisclosed compensation in the form of 12b-1 fees, revenue sharing, administrative fees, and mark-ups. The SEC's initial complaint against Cetera Advisors LLC, filed in federal court in Colorado in August, charged Cetera Advisors LLC with similarly failing to adequately disclose to its advisory clients unlawful practices concerning undisclosed compensation and the conflicts of interest associated with them.
Claimant was employed by Morgan Stanley from 1995-2008 and thereafter with UBS. In 2000, Claimant recommended that the Customer consider purchasing various Morgan Stanley mutual funds in an attempt to appreciate the value of her portfolio while meeting her investment objectives. The Customer purchased several of the Morgan Stanley mutual funds.After being given the prospectuses, the Customer did not have any questions or concerns regarding the funds. In 2009, nine years after the initial investments, the Customer brought a complaint against Claimant alleging that he lost her money by not investing in safe investments. As a result, UBS reported the Underlying Complaint on Claimant's CRD records. Morgan Stanley completed its investigation and sent the Customer a letter rejecting the Underlying Complaint, to which the Customer did not respond and did not did pursue arbitration.The Customer complained about losses after watching market performance for years, including events such as the dot.com crash, the markets reaching all-time highs in 2007 and then the subsequent financial crisis. Claimant was employed by UBS in 2008 and ceased to be the Customer's financial advisor at such time. Claimant, as a financial advisor, is not a guarantor of performance of the market particularly when there no longer is a relationship with the customer.
During the period in question, Claimant worked with two financial advisors at Merrill Lynch. Claimant was advised that a conservative investment strategy to generate income would be to write covered call options using his extensive Intel stockholdings. Claimant made it clear to both financial advisors that he would only pursue this strategy if he could be assured that none of his Intel shares would end up being sold away. The advisor who was helping Claimant with his call option strategy in 2018 admitted that it was his understanding that he would receive advance notice of any potential assignment of Claimant's shares which would allow time for the options to be bought back prior to any exercise. Because this advisor knew Claimant wanted to make sure that his shares were not called away, he testified that he checked with someone at the Merrill Lynch options trading desk in order to confirm his understanding. On numerous occasions, Claimant was told by this advisor that he would get advance notice before any of his shares were assigned so that he could buy back the options before they were exercised.The financial advisor admitted during the hearing that the information he provided to Claimant related to advance notice was wrong. Even though Claimant received written disclosures stating that writing covered call options might result in his shares being called away without notice, it was not unreasonable for him to rely on the advice he received directly from the financial advisor he was working with and who knew Claimant's investment objectives.On May 4, 2018, two of Claimant's covered call option positions for Intel stock were exercised without advance notice resulting in the sale of 38,500 shares of Intel.The panel finds Respondent liable for negligent misrepresentation and negligence. The panel denies recovery to Claimant on the other legal theories alleged.Damages are awarded to Claimant in the amount of $330,000.00, which includes considerations related to tax liabilities Claimant incurred as a result of the shares being sold, and dividends Claimant has asserted he would otherwise have received had the shares not been sold.
[F]rom 2011 through 2014, Migliorato was responsible for the firm's compliance with these requirements of pre-release. Under Migliorato's watch, personnel on ICBCFS's securities lending desk failed to take reasonable steps to determine whether the proper number of foreign shares were owned and held by ICBCFS or its customers. This failure opened up the possibility that the ADRs could be used improperly for short selling or dividend arbitrage.
In my view, what we now have in our public markets is a festering wound that, if left untreated, could metastasize unchecked and affect the entire system of our public markets. The question, then, is what can be done to avoid the inevitable reckoning.We on the investor side need to start by being honest with ourselves. As much as we may want to talk about the stock exchanges and their race to the bottom with their listing standards-and trust me, I have talked about it -- we need to acknowledge that investors themselves have engaged in their own race to the bottom when it comes to corporate accountability to shareholders. Investors, and particularly late-stage venture capital investors with deep pockets, have been willing to pay astronomical sums while ceding astonishing amounts of control to founders. This means that other investors, in order to deploy their own capital, must agree to terms that were once unthinkable, including low-vote or no-vote shares. The end result is a wave of companies with weak corporate governance.
convicted felon Eric J. "EJ" Dalius and the companies he controlled under the umbrella name "Saivian" engaged in a scheme to defraud when they sold securities that entitled investors to receive 20% cash back on their shopping purchases in exchange for paying a fee of $125 every 28 days, and submission of receipts. In its amended complaint, the SEC charges Evans with taking actions and making material misstatements in furtherance of the scheme. The amended complaint alleges that defendants Dalius, Evans, and the Saivian companies falsely claimed that Saivian funded its cash back payments to investors by selling receipt data submitted by its members. Instead, the defendants operated a Ponzi scheme in which they paid returns to investors from the funds of later investors, rather than through legitimate business activity. The amended complaint also alleges that the defendants engaged in an illegal pyramid scheme when they promised a daily residual income stream for affiliates who sold Saivian memberships to downline recruits. The SEC also alleges Dalius concealed his control of the Saivian scheme and failed to disclose his prior criminal conviction in connection with an earlier multi-level marketing fraud.