This month Variable Annuities seems to be the common theme in the Florida matters. These investments are subject to abuse since they generally offer the selling broker a commission substantially greater than most of the other options. You can access the employment, educational and disciplinary history of any broker by going to the FINRA Broker Check website which can be accessed here.
Cobalt Capital, Inc.-Winter Park, FL- was censured and fined $15,000 and findings were entered that the firm failed to preserve all of its business-related electronic communications for about two years.
Credicorp Securities, Inc.-Coral Gables, FL- was censured and fined $10,000 and findings were entered that the firm failed to report transactions to TRACE and also incorrectly reported some transactions and that in 31 instances the firm failed to provide proper disclosure to customers.
EFG Capital International, Corp.-Miami-FL- was censured and fined $32,500 and findings that the failed to report the correct contra-party identifier for transactions in TRACE eligible securities to TRACE and other violations related to TRACE.
Equity Station, Inc.-Boca Raton, FL- censured and fined $10,000 and findings entered that the firm conducted securities business while failing to maintain its required net minimum capital and that the firm booked transactions for which there was no economic substance or support and improperly classified a receivable. It was also found that the firm failed to file early warning notifications and filed inaccurate monthly FOCUS reports.
Venecredit Securities, Inc.-Miami, FL- censured and fined $25,000 and FINRA found that for 2 years most of the firm’s retail business came from foreign finders who were employed by a related entity and that the firm did not adequately supervise the foreign finders. Deficiencies were also found as to the retention of electronic communications.
vFinance Investments, Inc.-Boca Raton,FL-censured and fined $22,500 and findings that is sold corporate bonds to customers at a price that was not fair. The firm was also fined an additonal $25,000 for failing to maintain minimum net capital requirements, booking transactions for which there was no economic substance and other infractions.
Adam S. Deane- Naples, FL- censured and fined $25,000 and suspended for three months, with findings that Deane recommended and executed a variable annuity replacement in a state where he was not licensed to sell such a product. The findings also state that he included false information in the application. Suspension is from September 4, 2012-December 3, 2012. According to FINRA records, Deane is not currently registered. He last worked for Best Direct Securities, LLC in Bonita Springs. Prior to that he was with Merrill Lynch.
Alice H. Everett-Hialeah, FL-submitted Offer of Settlement in which she was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. Findings were entered that she failed to respond to FINRA requests for information regarding a private securities transaction and unsuitable investment recommendations. According to FINRA records, Everett is not currently registered and last worked for Allstate Financial Services in Sunny Isles, FL. Prior to that she worked for Intersecurities, Inc. in Hialeah.
Michael J Hester-Tampa, FL-barred by FINRA upon findings that he engaged in a private securities transaction by accepting $20,000 from individuals for the purchase of an investment without approval from his firm. Hester deposited the funds into a bank account controlled by him and converted them to his personal use. Hester is not currently registered with FINRA and last worked for International Assets Advisory in Orlando. Prior to that he was with Oppenheimer & Co.
Alan B. Levin-Coral Springs, FL- fined $10,000 and suspended for 10 days for allowing his firm to conduct business while not capital deficient and while he was serving as FINOP. Levin is currently employed by VFinance Investments, Equity Station, Inc. and National Securities Corp. in Boca Raton, FL.
Edgar A Thomas-Winter Haven, FL-fined $5,000 and suspended for 10 days upon findings that he failed to supervise a broker who recommended variable annuity purchases and exchanges without reasonable basis to believe the customer was adequately apprised of the associated costs. Thomas is not currently registered and last worked for Brookstone Securities, Inc. in Lakeland, FL. Prior to that he was with J.W. Cole Financial.
Kris M Thoresen-Ponte Vedra, FL-fined $10,000 and suspended for one year upon findings that he did not comply with firm guidelines with regard to the sale of variable annuities. The transactions had a value in excess of $1.2 million and some were resubmitted directly to the product sponsor after his firm had rejected them. Thoresen
is not currently registered and last worked for Allstate Financial Services in Jacksonville.
Stephanie L Webster-Ft. Lauderdale, FL-fined $5,000 and suspended for 15 days upon findings that she trying to settle a customer complaint by paying $70,000, without notifying her current or previous member firm. Webster is not currently registered and last worked for Atlas One Financial Group in West Palm Beach, FL. Prior to that she was with Capital Guardian, LLC.
Andrew M. Abern-Miami,FL-fined $25,000 and censured upon findings that he provided some customers with variable annuity expense disclosure forms containing inaccurate information. The proposed transaction was unsuitable since it contemplated using refinancing proceeds from the customers residence and was too high a concentration level. Abern is registered with Dalton Strategic Investment Services in Coral Gables, FL.
Johan Mary-Lyn Akal-Sarasota, FL- named a respondent in a FINRA complaint alleging that she forged, without authority, a customers signature on withdrawal slips and took over $47,000 from the customers bank account. Akal is not currently registered. Her last registration was with Suntrust Investment Services in Sarasota, FL.
Levinski D Barnes-Lutz, FL-named a respondent in a FINRA complaint that he misled a customer as to an outside investment, collected $50,000 from the customer and only returned a portion. Barnes is not currently registered. His last registration was with J.P. Turner & Company.
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