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.
June 2011
Portfolio Advisors Alliance, Inc. and Marcelle Long (Principal)
OS/2008011640602/June 2011

Respondents failed to put any heightened supervisory measures in place for a branch manager or to follow up on “red flags.” Notwithstanding the branch manager’s remote location, prior disciplinary history, outside business disclosures or his disclosure that he was potentially under financial stress and unable to meet financial obligations, the Firm and Long failed to put any heightened supervisory measures in place or to follow up on the red flags after he disclosed information on a compliance questionnaire, for which the affirmative answer required that he attach a separate sheet providing complete details about the disclosed activities, which Long did not complete or enforce. Also, the firm’s and Long’s heightened supervision of the branch manager was inadequate in that it consisted only of inspecting his office annually and speaking on the phone on a fairly regular basis. Long inspected the branch manager’s branch office, and although she was aware that the manager was involved in certain outside business activities, based on the disclosures that he made on his Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer (Form U4), she admitted that she did not inspect any files or financial records associated with his disclosed outside business activities and did not detect any undisclosed outside business activities or private securities transactions.During a subsequent inspection, Long again did not review documentation regarding the branch manager’s disclosed outside business activities and did not detect any undisclosed outside business activities or private securities transactions.

Additionally, the branch manager had participated in private securities transactions wherein he had raised more than $1.5 million from investors, many of whom were firm customers.

In addition, the firm and Long failed to review or retain email communications on the branch manager’s outside email account, and Long did not review his outside email account during her inspections of his branch office. Moreover, FINRA found that the firm did not have any supervisory procedures regarding the review and retention of email communications on outside email accounts.

Portfolio Advisors Alliance, Inc.: Censured; Fined $35,000

Marcelle Long: Fined $7,500; Suspended in Principal/Supervisory capacity only for 30 days

Bill Singer's Comment

At first blush, the sanctions appear a bit harsh but after it all sinks in -- nah, FINRA seems to have had the punishment about right.  Given the history of the subject branch manager and the apparent supervisory lapses, the Principal is lucky that she got off with only a 30-day Principal/Supervisory suspension. The sanctions against her could have been far worse and, frankly, with some justification.

Either I'm getting mellow in my old age or FINRA is starting to get some things right.  Whoa -- did I really write that?

April 2011
Gary Chew
AWC/2008014479002/April 2011

Chew engaged in a

  • private securities transaction, by purchasing shares of stock via subscription agreement, outside the regular scope of his employment with his member firm and without providing prior written notice of this private securities transaction to the firm; and
  • outside business activity, as the president and sole owner of an entity, without providing prompt written notice to his firm.

Chew made false statements and attestations to his firm when he completed compliance questionnaires and annual attestations on which he declared to the firm that he had not personally invested in any private security transaction outside of the firm, that he was not “engaged in any outside activity either as a proprietor, partner, officer, director, trustee, employee, agent or otherwise,” and that he did not participate in any outside business activities except for those previously disclosed to, and approved in writing by, the firm.

Gary Chew: Fiend $10,000; Suspended 3 months
Enforcement Actions