NOTE: Stipulations of Fact and Consent to Penalty (SFC); Offers of Settlement (OS); and Letters of Acceptance Waiver, and Consent (AWC) are entered into by Respondents without admitting or denying the allegations, but consent is given to the described sanctions & to the entry of findings. Additionally, for AWCs, if FINRA has reason to believe a violation has occurred and the member or associated person does not dispute the violation, FINRA may prepare and request that the member or associated person execute a letter accepting a finding of violation, consenting to the imposition of sanctions, and agreeing to waive such member's or associated person's right to a hearing before a hearing panel, and any right of appeal to the National Adjudicatory Council, the SEC, and the courts, or to otherwise challenge the validity of the letter, if the letter is accepted. The letter shall describe the act or practice engaged in or omitted, the rule, regulation, or statutory provision violated, and the sanction or sanctions to be imposed.
The Firm failed to ensure that investor funds from an offering were deposited into an escrow account during the offering’s contingency period. The firm participated in a best efforts, “minimum-maximum” offering an entity conducted, and the offering summary stated that if the minimum offering amount was not raised during the offering period, the funds held in the segregated account would be returned to the investors; but prior to the minimum offering amount being raised, the issuer withdrew and utilized funds from the bank account.
After only $600,000 had been raised, the issuer withdrew $199,000 and utilized the funds to make a down payment on a portfolio of defaulted auto loans so that the minimum offering amount was not obtained until a later date. The findings also included that the representation in the offering summary that investor funds would be placed in a segregated account until the minimum offering amount had been received was rendered false when the issuer utilized investor funds before the minimum offering amount was raised.