Enforcement Actions
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
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.
December 2011
Internet Securities and Michael Wayne Beardsley (Principal)
AWC/2009020930302/December 2011
Beardsley was a registered representative’s direct supervisor who was responsible for reviewing and approving the representative’s securities transactions, but failed to exercise reasonable supervision over the representative’s recommendations of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in customers’ accounts, thereby allowing the representative to conduct numerous unsuitable transactions. 

As the firm’s chief compliance officer (CCO), Beardsley was responsible for ensuring that the firm filed all necessary Uniform Applications for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer (Forms U4), Uniform Termination Notices for Securities Industry Registration (Forms U5) and Rule 3070 reports. The Firm and Beardsley failed to timely amend Beardsley’s Form U4 to disclose the settlement of an arbitration against him, the firm and the registered representative; the firm failed to timely amend a registered representative’s Form U5 to disclose settlement of the arbitration; and the firm and Beardsley failed to timely report the settlement to FINRA’s 3070 system

The Firm and Beardsley failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws, regulations and FINRA rules as they pertain to private placements. The firm and Beardsley failed to conduct investigations of offerings for suitability but relied on information the registered representative who proposed selling the offering provided; never reviewed issuers’ financials, nor attempted to obtain information about the issuers from any third parties; failed to maintain documentation of their investigations; allowed a registered representative to draft selling agreements with offerings which allowed the issuer to make direct payment to an entity the representative, not the firm, owned,; failed to implement supervisory procedures to ensure compliance with SEC Exchange Act Rule 15c2-4(b); and failed to implement supervisory procedures to prevent general solicitation of investments in connection with offerings made pursuant to Regulation D. 

The Firm’s written procedures required Beardsley to obtain and review, on at least an annual basis, a written statement from each registered representative about his or her outside business activities; despite the fact that several registered representatives were actively engaged in outside business activities, Beardsley failed to obtain any such written statements. 

For almost a three-year period, Beardsley did not request any duplicate statements of outside securities accounts firm employees held; he neither requested nor obtained any written notifications from firm employees concerning their actual or anticipated outside securities activities. In addition, the Firm and Beardsley failed to implement an adequate system of supervisory control policies and procedures regarding testing supervisory procedures for compliance, erroneous criteria for identifying and supervising producing managers, including Beardsley, review and monitoring transmittal of funds or securities, customer changes of address, customer changes of investment objectives, and concomitant documentation for its limited size and resources exception in FINRA Rule 3012. Moreover,he firm and Beardsley completed an annual certification in which Beardsley certified that he had reviewed a report evidencing the firm’s processes for establishing, maintaining and reviewing policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable FINRA rules, Municipal Securities and Rulemaking Board (MSRB) rules and federal securities laws and regulations; modifying such policies and procedures as business, regulatory and legislative changes and events dictate; and testing the effectiveness of such policies and procedures on a periodic basis, the timing and extent of which is reasonably designed to ensure continuing compliance with FINRA rules, MSRB rules and federal securities laws and regulations. In fact, the report did not evidence any processes for testing the effectiveness of such policies, and no such testing was done.

Furthermore, on the firm’s behalf, Beardsley executed an engagement letter committing the firm to serve as a placement agent for an issuer of limited partnership units. The letter, which a registered representative of the firm drafted, falsely represented that the firm was not a registered broker-dealer. 

The Firm and Beardsley failed to enforce the firm’s Customer Identification Program (CIP) in that they completely failed to verify four customers’ identities. The Firm and Beardsley failed to conduct a test of the firm’s anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program for a calendar year. FINRA found that the firm conducted a securities business while failing to maintain its required minimum net capital.

Internet Securities: Censured; Fined $12,500; Required to retain an outside consultant to review and prepare a report concerning the adequacy of the firm’s supervisory, and compliance policies and procedures, and supervisory controls; the report shall make specific recommendations addressing any inadequacies the consultant identifies, and the firm shall act on those recommendations. FINRA imposed a lower fine after it considered the firm’s size, including, among other things, the firm’s revenues and financial resources. 

Michael Beardsley: No fine in light of financial status: Suspended 1 year in Principal capacity only
Tags:  ETF    Private Placement    Suitability    Annual Compliance Certification    Away Accounts    AML    CIP     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
James Malcolm Reardon
AWC/2010021058404/December 2011
Reardon helped prepare a document called “Investor Letter” for a company,  which his member firm distributed sometime later. The Investor Letter constituted a research report, but it failed to disclose Reardon’s ownership interest in the company and his receipt of compensation from the company. Reardon helped prepare presentations regarding the company that the firm’s registered representatives used to solicit potential investors at seminars. The presentations contained statements and projections that were without basis and were false, exaggerated, unwarranted and/or misleading, and failed to provide a balanced presentation by omitting material information regarding the significant risks associated with an investment in the company. 

Reardon opened a personal securities account at another broker-dealer and failed to disclose to the executing broker-dealer that he was associated with a firm. The suspension is in effect from November 7, 2011, through December 19, 2011. (FINRA Case #)
James Malcolm Reardon: Fined $7,500; Suspended 30 business days
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
Ronak C. Patel
2010024540401/December 2011
Patel failed to respond to FINRA requests for information and to appear for testimony regarding loans from a firm customer. 

Patel failed to make appropriate disclosure of an outside securities account after he became associated with his member firm and failed to notify the firm that held his securities account that he had become associated with a firm.Patel made a false statement on an annual compliance certification to his firm that he completed after he signed and filed his initial Form U4 subjecting himself to FINRA’s jurisdiction. Patel acknowledged receipt of and adherence to the firm’s policies, including obligations to comply with the firm’s policies and to adhere to the applicable federal, state and selfregulatory organization laws and rules. Patel falsely stated that he did not have a securities account when, in fact, he did.
Ronak C. Patel : Barred
September 2011
Scott J. Baklenko
AWC/2009019500401/September 2011

Baklenko engaged in private securities transactions without prior written notice to, and approval from, his member firm, in that he participated in the sales to firm customers of limited partnership interests in an entity he and a business associate had formed for a total of $1,095,000.

Baklenko and the business associate opened an account with another member firm in their entity’s name; Baklenko failed to notify his member firm in writing that he had established the account with the other firm and he failed to notify the other firm, with which he opened the account, in writing that he was associated with a firm. Baklenko effected trades in his entity’s account at the other firm, which included securities purchases totaling approximately $176,575 and securities sales totaling approximately $57,109.

Scott J. Baklenko : Fined $20,000; Suspended 20 months
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
August 2011
Midtown Partners & Co., LLC
OS/2008012242901/August 2011

The Firm failed to have a supervisory system reasonably designed to detect and prevent the misuse of material, nonpublic information by employees through an information barriers system.

The Firm did not have WSPs addressing the creation or distribution of a watch list, which is a list of securities whose trading is subject to close scrutiny by a firm’s compliance or legal department, and the firm did not maintain any list of this nature. The firm maintained a restricted list but it was not maintained in the manner its own procedures required; securities were added to the list in a haphazard manner, often after the issuer had signed a private placement agent agreement with the firm. The list did not reflect when a security was added or deleted from the list, and did not identify the contact person.

The firm did not adequately monitor employee trading outside the firm for transactions in the restricted-list securities; the firm permitted employees to maintain securities accounts with other broker-dealers, requiring any employee to have duplicate confirmations and account statements sent to the firm. Firm employees were required to disclose their outside accounts to the firm upon hire and annually in an attestation form, but the firm failed to obtain annual attestations from some employees and did not ensure that it was receiving the required duplicate confirmations and account statements.

In addition, because the firm failed to maintain a watch list, to timely add securities to its restricted list, to record the required restricted list information, and to obtain confirmations and account statements for employee accounts, it could not reasonably monitor its employees’ trading for transactions in restricted or watch-list securities. Moreover,the firm did not have procedures to restrict the flow of material, nonpublic information and routinely shared restricted-list information with unregistered individuals who were firm owners, and occasionally shared with these unregistered individuals the details of investment banking contracts; consequently the firm’s procedures were not reasonably designed to prevent violation of securities rules prohibiting insider trading.

Midtown Partners & Co., LLC: Censured; FIned $30,000
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
July 2011
Alfonso Fiero (Principal)
2008015329001/July 2011
While registered with a member firm, Fiero maintained a corporate brokerage account which he controlled at another member firm (the executing firm) without disclosing the existence of this account to his firm or his association with his firm to the executing firm. Fiero failed to disclose the existence of any outside securities account, including any accounts where he had control over the investments on an annual certification form he submitted to his firm. Fiero failed to respond to FINRA requests for information and documents.
Alfonso Fiero (Principal): Barred
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
Bill Singer's Comment
There's certainly been an increase in FINRA prosecutions for RRs using so-called "away accounts."  Typically, before you can open such an account (or continue such use), you need to notify your firm and the firm where you have the account.  Duplicate confirms are then sent to your employing FINRA member firm.
Brian Daniel Parker (Principal)
AWC/2008015729701/July 2011
Parker failed to provide written notice to his member firm prior to opening a brokerage account with another FINRA member firm and, upon opening the account, failed to advise the executing member firm in writing of his association with his firm. Parker engaged in outside business activities without providing prompt written notice to his firm.
Brian Daniel Parker (Principal): Fined $5,000; Suspended 30 days
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
May 2011
Douglas Daniel Ivan (Principal)
AWC/2010022805201/May 2011

Ivan executed an agreement purportedly on the firm’s behalf, in which a non-customer corporation agreed to pay the firm a $35,000 refundable deposit in exchange for the firm agreeing to act as an exclusive placement agent to assist the corporation in arranging for $8 million dollars in debt financing. Subject to the agreement, Ivan instructed the corporation to wire the $35,000 deposit to a personal brokerage account he controlled at another FINRA member firm. Instead of using the funds as he represented to the corporation and in accordance with the terms of the signed agreement, Ivan diverted the corporation’s funds by wiring $25,000 of the deposit to another business entity that was supposedly going to assist the corporation with arranging the financing and used the remaining $10,000 for his personal benefit. The debt financing for the corporation never materialized, and the corporation did not receive the return of its $35,000 deposit.

Ivan made untruthful statements and provided false documents to FINRA when he untruthfully represented in his written response to FINRA that he had forwarded the $35,000 from the corporation to a business entity assisting with the financing, and that he did not receive any compensation or payments relating to his participation in arranging the financing. Ivan provided FINRA a document purporting to be an account statement for his outside brokerage account, which falsely reflected a wire transfer of $35,000 out of his account to a business entity assisting with the arrangement of financing, when in fact, the wire transfer amount had only been $25,000. That brokerage account statement had false entries for the figures representing the total amount of checks written and the total amount of checking, debit card and cash withdrawals.

Moreover, Ivan held a financial interest in a brokerage account maintained at another FINRA member firm without giving prompt written notification to the firm that he had such an account, and without notifying the other brokerage firm of his association with his member firm. Furthermore, Ivan falsely answered “N/A” on the firm’s outside brokerage account new hire certification form when requested to list every brokerage account over which he had full or partial ownership.

Douglas Daniel Ivan (Principal): Barred
Tags:  Away Accounts    Conversion    False Statements    Outside Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
March 2011
William Echeverri
AWC/2009016948201/March 2011
Echeverri  failed to disclose to his member firms that he held an outside brokerage account at another member firm. While associated with one of the firms, Echeverri made written attestations to the firm that he did not have an outside brokerage account when, in fact, he did have one.
William Echeverri : Fined $7,500; Suspended 60 days
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
February 2011
Andy Young Lee
AWC/2008015985601/February 2011
Lee opened a brokerage account at another member firm without providing written notice to his firm prior to opening the account, and placed hundreds of trades in the outside account without disclosing that trading activity to his firm. Lee failed to provide notice to the firm providing the account of his association with his firm. When Lee became associated with another member firm, he failed to disclose the fact to the member firms at which he maintained brokerage accounts.
Andy Young Lee : Fiend $10,000; Suspended 30 days
Tags:  Away Accounts     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
January 2011
Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC
AWC/2007009458001/January 2011

The Firm failed to

  • establish certain elements of an adequate AML program reasonably designed to achieve and monitor its compliance with the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act and implementing regulations promulgated by the Department of Treasury;
  • establish policies and procedures reasonably expected to detect and cause the reporting of transactions required under 31 USC 5318(g) by failing to provide branch office managers with reports that contained adequate information to monitor for potential money-laundering and red flag activity; and for the firm’s compliance department to perform periodic reviews of wire transfer activity, require either branch managers or the AML compliance officers to document reviews of AML alerts in accordance with firm procedures, identify the beneficial owners and/or agents for service of process for some foreign correspondent banks accounts, and establish adequate written policies and procedures that provided guidelines for suspicious activity that would require the filing of a Form SAR-SF;
  • establish policies and procedures that required ongoing AML training of appropriate personnel related to margin issues, entering new account information, verifying physical securities and handling wire activity;
  • ensure that its third-party vendor verified new customers’ identities by using credit and other database cross-references, and after the firm determined that the vendor’s lapse was resolved, it failed to retroactively verify customer information not previously subjected to the verification process;
  • establish procedures reasonably expected to detect and cause the reporting of suspicious transactions required under 31 USC 5318(g), in that it failed to include in its AML review the activity in retail accounts institutional account registered representatives serviced;
  • review accounts that a producing branch office manager serviced under joint production numbers;
  • evidence in certain instances timely review of letters of authorization, correspondence, account designation changes, trade blotters, branch manager weekly review forms and branch manager monthly reviews; failed to follow procedures intended to prevent producing branch office managers from approving their own errors;
  • follow procedures intended to prevent a branch office operations manager from approving transactions in her own account and an assistant branch office manager from reviewing transactions in accounts he serviced;
  • establish procedures for the approval and supervision related to employee use of personal computers and, during one year, permitted certain employees to use personal computers the firm did not approve or supervise,
  • include a question on thefirm’s annual acknowledgement form for one year that required its registered representatives to disclose outside securities accounts and the firm could not determine how many remained unreported due to the supervisory lapse;
  • follow policies and procedures requiring the pre-approval and review of the content of employees’ radio broadcasts, television appearances, seminars and dinners, and materials distributed at the seminars and dinners; representatives conducted seminars that were not pre-approved by the firm’s advertising principal as required by its written procedures; the firm failed to maintain in a separate file all advertisements, sales literature and independently prepared reprints for three years from date of last use; and a branch office manager failed to review a registered representative’s radio broadcast. A branch office manager failed to maintain a log of a registered representative’s radio broadcasts and failed to tape and/or maintain a transcript of the broadcasts and there was no evidence a qualified principal reviewed or approved the registered representative’s statements. Branch office managers did not retain documents reflecting the nature of seminars, materials distributed to attendees or supervisory pre-approval of the seminars; retain transcripts of a representative’s local radio program and TV appearances or document supervisory review or approval of materials used; and retain documents reflecting the nature of a dinner or seminar conducted by representatives or materials distributed;
  • record the identity of the person who accepted each customer order because it failed to update its order ticket form to reflect the identity of the person who accepted the order; and

  • to review Bloomberg emails and some firm employees’ instant messages

The Firm distributed a document, Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options, that was not current, and the firm lacked procedures for advising customers with respect to changes to the document and failed to document the date on which it was sent to certain customers who had recently opened options accounts. Also, the firm’s compliance registered options principal did not document weekly reviews of trading in discretionary options accounts.

Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC : Censured; Fined $175,000
Tags:  Annual Compliance Certification    Email    Instant Messaging    SAR    AML    Bank    Third Party Vendor    Away Accounts    Broadcast    Producing Manager     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
Bill Singer's Comment
What can I say -- even I'm impressed!
Jenny Quyen Ta (Principal)
AWC/2010021538701/January 2011

Ta engaged in outside business activities and failed to give prompt written notice to her member firm. Ta failed to disclose that she had financial interests and/or discretionary authority in multiple brokerage accounts at other broker-dealers and failed to give her firm prompt written notice of these accounts; on account applications, she falsely indicated that she was not affiliated with a securities firm. On a firm securities annual attestation form, Ta falsely stated that she did not have a personal securities account.

Ta created websites which included representations about her career accomplishments but never obtained a registered firm principal’s approval for those sites. One of the websites stated that Ta founded a full-service broker-dealer that was a FINRA member when, in fact, it was not; although that entity had a new member application pending with FINRA, it was not an actual broker-dealer and never became a FINRA member.

Ta failed to inform a registered firm principal that she had a Twitter account which, on occasion, she used to tout a particular stock. In addition, Ta’s “tweets” were unbalanced, overwhelmingly positive and frequently predicted an imminent price rise, and Ta did not disclose that she and her family members held a substantial position in the stock.

Jenny Quyen Ta (Principal): Fined $10,000; Suspended 1 year.
Tags:  Away Accounts    Website    Internet    Electronic Communications     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
Mahmood Hasan Usmani
AWC/2010022476001/January 2011

By purchasing an issuer’s stock while in knowing possession of material, non-public information, directly or indirectly, by use of means or instrumentalities of interstate commerce, Associated Person Usmani intentionally or recklessly employed a device, scheme or artifice to defraud or engaged in an act, practice or course of business which operated, or would operate, as a fraud or deceit in connection with the purchase or sale of a security. 

Prior to the public announcement of the tender offer for a security and after a substantial step or steps to commence the tender offer had been taken, Usmani purchased the issuer’s securities while in possession of material information relating to the offer, which he knew or had reason to know was non-public and had been acquired directly or indirectly from a person acting on the offering person’s behalf; the issuer of the securities sought or to be sought by the tender offer; or an officer, director, partner, employee, or other person acting on the offering person’s or such an issuer’s behalf.

Usmani failed to notify his member firm, in writing, of the existence of his personal securities accounts, in which he had a financial interest and maintained at another FINRA member firm, and failed to notify the other member firm, in writing, of his association with his member firm.

Usmani failed to respond to FINRA requests for information and documents.

Mahmood Hasan Usmani: Barred; Ordered to disgorge $24,286.67 in unlawful profits.
Tags:  Away Accounts    Insider Trading     |    In: Cases of Note : FINRA
Enforcement Actions