Investor Alert – NASAA and SEC Warn about Cryptocurrency Related Investments

On January 4th, the same day I posted about a recent FINRA Investor Alert regarding cryptocurrency, there was a new press release from the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) with further guidance on the same topic. NASAA’s analysis and warning amounts to this: Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), and all other investment products related to cryptocurrency or the blockchain, pose a threat to investors.

“A NASAA survey of state and provincial securities regulators shows 94 percent believe there is a ‘high risk of fraud’ involving cryptocurrencies. Regulators also were unanimous in their view that more regulation is needed for cryptocurrency to provide greater investor protection.”

The same day, the SEC made a public statement from Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Kara M. Stein and Michael S. Piwowar, in wholehearted agreement with NASAA: “The NASAA release also reminds investors that when they are offered and sold securities they are entitled to the benefits of state and federal securities laws, and that sellers and other market participants must follow these laws. Unfortunately, it is clear that many promoters of ICOs and others participating in the cryptocurrency – related investment markets are not following these laws. The SEC and state securities regulators are pursuing violations, but we again caution you that, if you lose money, there is a substantial risk that our efforts will not result in a recovery of your investment.”

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FINRA Expels New York Stockbroker Hank Mark Werner

On November 8, 2017, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that a broker named Hank Mark Werner of upstate New York had been barred from the securities industry. The headline: “FINRA Hearing Panel Bars Broker for Defrauding Elderly, Blind Customer”.

The pattern of this behavior is outrageous but not all that unusual. It makes a good example of how financial professionals fail their clients.

According to the FINRA news release, Mr. Werner served as the licensed broker for an elderly couple since 1995. The husband died in 2012. Mr. Werner made some 700 trades on “behalf” of his client, a sightless 77-year old recently widowed woman in poor health between October 2012 and December 2015. He ultimately collected $210,000 in commissions. The panel’s decision includes an order of restitution to the widow, a fine, Mr. Werner’s banishment from the industry, and a further fine and censure for his employer – Legend Securities, brokerage firm expelled from the securities industry as of April, 2017.

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Banks Receives 2016 Distinguished Service Award from PIABA

Last week at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association in San Diego, attorney Bob Banks was honored with PIABA’s Distinguished Service Award. The award is given “in recognition of outstanding, long-term and sustained service to promote the interests of the public investor in securities and commodities arbitration.”

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Victory – Vindicated By The California Court of Appeals

“The victory benefits investors everywhere by making clear that basic rules of due process do apply in FINRA arbitration”. In August, 2014, I represented Sandra Liebhaber in a FINRA hearing requested by Royal Alliance Associates and its one time financial advisor, Kathleen Tarr. This was an expungement hearing in which Royal Alliance and Tarr asked FINRA to erase any trace of the claim that my client had filed and settled with Royal Alliance. To grant that extraordinary remedy, the FINRA three-person panel had to find essentially that Ms. Liebhaber had filed a false claim. Ms. Liebhaber did not and would not file a false claim, and when I found out about the request, Darlene Pasieczny and I agreed to represent her without charge at the hearing to oppose the expungement. At the hearing, the arbitrators allowed Ms. Tarr to testify that she was a minister’s daughter and had done nothing wrong.

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Aequitas Private Notes

I received a document from a confidential source that was prepared by Aequitas and it is quite enlightening. It is written about the Aequitas Private Notes issued by ACF (Aequitas Commercial Finance), and dated the third quarter of 2015.

The document states, “ACF uses proceeds from Private Notes primarily to repay prior investors.” I interpret this to mean that the company did not have the assets to pay prior investors from its regular course of business. I define a Ponzi Scheme as an investment scheme that operates by using new investor money to pay prior investors, and creating the illusion that distributions are from operations, when they are not.

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Information About The Aequitas Investigation

Looking for Information about the Aequitas Investigation and Investors? Investors looking for information about their investment funds and private promissory notes issued by one of the Aequitas companies operating out of Lake Oswego, Oregon have come to the right place. We have created a site specifically designed for those seeking more information about the Aequitas investigation. […]

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New Article – Form U5 Information Gets to BrokerCheck Faster with New FINRA Rule Change

Investor Defenders have published a new article. Form U5 Information Gets to BrokerCheck Faster with New FINRA Rule Change Effective December 12, 2015, certain information provided on the registration termination paperwork (Form U5) for a brokerage firm or terminated broker will be accessible on BrokerCheck in 3 business days instead of 15. Be sure to […]

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New Article – Banks Quoted in Investment News Article

Investor Defenders have published a new article. Banks Quoted in Investment News Article Regarding Expungement Language Investor Defender attorney Robert S. Banks, Jr. was recently quoted by Investment News, in an article about FINRA arbitration expungement procedures. Be sure to check their website for the full article. If you have concerns about your financial advisor or investment portfolio, […]

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New Article – FINRA Examines Broker Compensation Conflict

Investor Defenders have published a new article. FINRA Examines Conflict in Broker Compensation As reported by Investment News recently, FINRA has sent letters to brokerage firms asking about Broker Compensation. The goal is to discourage firms from selling products that benefit the brokerage firm and the broker at the expense of the customer. Be sure […]

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