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Attention investors of William McWilliams

Jeffrey Pederson PC is investigating and interested in speaking to investors of William H. McWilliams, formerly of Raymond James and currently of Stifel Nicolaus.  This is in wake of a regulatory AWC entered into by William McWilliams with FINRA that alleges unauthorized trading by McWilliams.  FINRA is the regulatory agency that oversees investment brokers.

FINRA alleged that from August 2014 through December 2014, McWilliams exercised discretionary trading authority without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers and the Firm at least 28 times in eight customer accounts. As a result of such conduct, McWilliams violated regulatory rules NASD Rule 2510(b) and FINRA Rule 2010.  These are rules that all securities brokers must follow.

NASD Rule 2510(b) mandates, “No member or registered representative shall exercise any discretionary power in a customer’s account unless such customer has given prior written authorization to a stated individual or individuals and the account has been accepted by the member, as evidenced in writing by the member or the partner, officer or manager, duly designated by the member, in accordance with Rule 3010.”

NASD Rule 2510(d)(I) states, that the written authorization requirement does not apply to “discretion as to the price at which or the time when an order given by a customer for the purchase or sale ofa definite amount ofa specified security shall be executed, except that the authority to exercise time and price discretion will be considered to be in effect only until the end ofthe business day on which the customer granted such discretion, absent a specific, written contrary indication signed and dated by the customer.”

FINRA Rule 2010 requires associated persons to observe high standards of commercial honor andjust and equitab!e principles oftrade.

During the Relevant Period, while employed at Raymond James, McWilliams exercised discretionary trading authority in response to customer liquidation requests at least six times in four Firm customer accounts without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers and without having the accounts accepted as discretionary accounts by Raymond James.

McWilliams also inappropriately exercised discretion at least 22 times in four other customer accounts. ln these instances, McWilliams failed to discuss the subject trades with the customers on the day ofthe transaction and the Firm prohibited the use ofdiscretion in these circumstances. By virtue ofexercising discretion in the accounts of eight customers without written authorization, McWilliams violated NASD Rule 2510(b) and FlNRA Rule 2010.

John Burns, Ameriprise, UBS Loss Recovery

John Burns of St. Charles, MO, and formerly of Ameriprise, UBS, Edward Jones and Sagepoint, submitted an agreement settling a regulatory suit in which he was assessed a deferred fine of and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 14 months.  Such regulatory actions rarely work to compensate injured investors and injured investors should speak to an attorney concerning their losses.  If you believe that you have suffered losses, or believe the offer to settle your matter is too low, call 1-866-817-0201 for a free initial consultation with an attorney.

Without admitting or denying the findings, Burns consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he engaged in a pattern of unauthorized trading in customer accounts and made unsuitable, risky investments for a senior couple. The findings stated that Burns did not have written discretionary authority to place trades in any of these customer accounts. In some of UBSthe customer accounts, Burns executed the trades without any authorization, while in other customer accounts, Burns had some verbal authorization to exercise discretion generally, but exceeded that verbal authorization by executing trades in excess of the available funds in the account. The findings also stated that Burns made unsuitable and unauthorized investments over a twoyear period in the account of a senior retired couple, both of whom were over 65 years old. These transactions involved repeated high-risk investments in small drug company stocks which were unsuitable for the customers’ moderate risk tolerance and investment profile. The customers sustained losses in all but one of these investments in an aggregate amount exceeding $50,000.

Burns has also been the subject of five lawsuits in recent years filed by investors concerning the mishandling of their accounts.

Brian Candler and Ari Financial

Please call 1-866-817-0201 to speak to a lawyer if you suffered losses with Brian Candler or Ari Financial.  Ari Financial of Overland Park, Kansas and Candler of Leawood, Kansas have recently resolved regulatory actions against them concerning failures in the review and supervision of the investments sold.  Some of these investments were ultimately revealed to be Ponzi schemes, such as the investments in Bridgeport Oaks.  The regulatory settlement can be found at the following link.

Invest photo 2In summary, Ari Financial submitted an Offer of Settlement in which the firm was censured, fined $7,500 and, for a period of one year, must file with FINRA’s Advertising Regulation department all retail communications that the firm intends to permit its registered representatives to use or distribute at least 10 business days prior to use.  Candler was censured, fined $2,500, suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for 10 business days, and suspended from association with any FINRA member in any principal capacity for 10 business days, to be served after the completion of the suspension in any capacity.

Without admitting or denying the allegations, the firm and Candler consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that Candler failed to conduct reasonable due diligence regarding a private placement that the firm sold directly to retail investors. The findings stated that as a result, the firm lacked a reasonable basis to believe that the private placement was suitable for any investor. The offering was later discovered to be a Ponzi scheme, and customers who purchased interests lost their collective investment principal of approximately $560,000.

The findings also stated that as a result of deficiencies in its supervisory system, the firm failed to identify and prevent the dissemination of misleading and imbalanced advertising and sales materials by registered brokers, and failed to ensure that the offering materials prepared and distributed contained sufficient and accurate disclosures. The findings also included that the firm failed to document the written approval of the advertising and sales material it used, and the first and last dates of use. FINRA found that Candler provided medallion signature guarantees for numerous pre-signed securities assignment forms without having the forms signed in his presence or otherwise verifying their authenticity Moreover, despite providing signature guarantees for numerous securities transfers, ARI and Candler had not previously established any supervisory system or written procedures for the firm’s medallion signature guarantee program.

Candler did not establish a supervisory system for the firm’s medallion signature guarantee program. Following the receipt of a complaint that Candler improperly provided signature guarantees in connection with certain securities transfers, he established deficient written supervisory procedures (WSPs) governing the firm’s activities as a guarantor. FINRA also found that the firm and Candler failed to retain and review certain securities business-related communications to and from its registered representatives, and failed to establish appropriate escrow accounts for contingent offerings. The firm’s WSPs did not include appropriate provisions to ensure that its standards regarding communications with the public were implemented and followed, and Candler did not enforce the WSPs that required it to preserve all business email. In addition, FINRA found that although the firm had WSPs that generally addressed the supervision of its private placement activities, they were often insufficiently tailored to the nature of its business and amounted to a supervisory system that was not reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.

UDF Losses

If you invested in UDF, you have rights and should call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with a lawyer.

The FBI on Thursday, February 18, 2016 raided the Grapevine, TX, in suburban Dallas, offices of large real estate investment trust, United Development Funding IV (“UDF”).  Allegations have circulated that investors have suffered losses at UDF as the result of Ponzi activity.  Shares of UDF on that day toppled 54% before trading was stopped.

FBI

As of October 16, 2016,  United Development Funding IV (“UDF IV” or the “Trust”) released more bad news.  It announced in a press release that it received a written notification letter from NASDAQ indicating that the Nasdaq Hearings Panel (“Panel”) had determined to delist the shares of UDF iV from Nasdaq.  The Trust has not filed its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015 (the “2015 Form 10-K”) and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31 and June 30, 2016 (the “2016 Forms 10-Q” and collectively with the 2015 Form 10-K, the “Reports”) by October 17, 2016, the deadline by which the Trust was to file all Reports in order to regain compliance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5250(c)(1).  This despite repeated assurances by the Trust to its investors that it would file such documents.

A disproportionate number of investors come from a small number of independent brokerages.  This could mean that the sale of the investment was influenced by inappropriate means, such as heightened commissions.  Many of the recommendations were also unsuitable, a fraudulent activity of recommending a security when the security is in contradiction to the wants and needs of the investor.

The brokerage firms we believe sold

Accordingly, the trade halt that has been in place since February 2016 will be converted to a trading suspension effective at the open of business on October 19, 2016.  While this suspension will occur at the open of business on October 19, 2016, the Trust currently plans to appeal the Panel’s determination to delist the Trust’s shares, although no assurance can be given regarding whether the Panel will grant the appeal or whether the appeal will ultimately be successful in preventing the delisting of the Trust’s shares.  As stated in the notification letter from Nasdaq, following the suspension of trading of the Trust’s shares on Nasdaq, the Trust’s shares may trade on the over-the-counter market.

On October 13, 2016, the Trust informed Nasdaq that it would be unable to meet the previously granted extended deadline of October 17, 2016 for filing the 2015 Form 10-K and the 2016 Forms 10-Q, as a result of the Trust’s auditors requiring more time to complete the audit.  In addition, the Trust informed Nasdaq that the Trust has received a “Wells Notice” from the staff (the “Staff”) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Division of Enforcement stating that the Staff has made a preliminary determination to recommend that the SEC file an enforcement action against the Trust alleging violations of certain provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Certain individuals associated with the Trust and its advisor also received similar Wells Notices.  A Wells notice is a notice from SEC regulators indicating that a preliminary investigation of UDF IV has recommended a likely enforcement action for violation of securities laws.

UDF has seen its stock price fall 81% in the months after a hedge fund alleged it was operating for years like a Ponzi scheme.

“The FBI is lawfully present and conducting law enforcement activity” at the UDF offices, said FBI spokeswoman Allison Mahan.

UDF has previously defended itself saying that the Ponzi charges are untrue and that it is the victim of individuals spreading rumors in hopes of shorting the REIT.   Claiming in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the REIT was the victim of this type of securities trading scheme known as a “short and distort.”  However, UDF also disclosed in December that it had been the subject of a fact-finding investigation by the SEC since April 2014.

The FBI’s presence at UDF headquarters further decimated the company’s share price, which fell  Thursday, February 18, to $3.20 per share after the FBI activity at company headquarters was reported. As recently as two months ago, UDF shares were trading at $17.20.

UDF IV had total assets of $684 million, the vast majority of which, $513.2 million, were notes receivable, according to its quarterly report from November. Notes receivable for related parties was $69.6 million, according to the report.

Earlier this month, hedge fund manager Kyle Bass revealed that he was shorting UDF. “UDF is using new investor money to pay existing investors,” he wrote. “UDF Management is misleading investors and is preying on ‘Mom and Pop’ retail investors.”

UDF investors should speak with an attorney to know their rights.

 

Sources for this report include Investmentnews.com and Wsj.com.