Tag Archives: Unsuitable Investment

Annuity Losses with Roger Zullo

LPLIf you suffered investment losses or stuck in a variable annuity, or other investment losses, as a result of Roger Zullo, formerly of LPL Financial, please call 1-866-817-0201.

On April 4, 2017, Zullo entered a Consent Order, a settlement, with the Massachusetts Securities Division resolving charges made in an administrative complaint by the state against Zullo and LPL.

The complaint alleged that Zullo, under the oversight of LPL, defrauded their clients, falsified client financial suitability profiles, and sold his customers unsuitable variable annuities. Pursuant to the Consent Order, without admitting or denying any allegations of fact or violations o flaw, he consented to a permanent bar from the securities industry in Massachusetts, a $40,000 administrative fine, and disgorgement of $1,875,348. Payment for disgorgement was waived due to Zullo’s circumstances, however, this does not preclude investors from retaining private attorneys to seek this recovery from LPL.

The action stems largely from variable annuity sales.  Zullo, allegedly, recommended variable annuities to elderly individuals.  Investment professionals have a legal duty to only recommend suitable investments.  Variable annuities are inherently unsuitable for seniors.  Not only do they lock-up the funds at a time when people need access to their funds, the investments pay the broker a very high commission.  This commission is for the sale of many aspects of the variable annuity that senior investors do not need.  These include tax deferral and life insurance.  When a broker makes a heightened commission for the sale of things that are unneeded, the broker puts his interests ahead of the investors, and that constitutes a form of fraud known as the sale of “unsuitable investments.”

Zullo first became registered with FINRA as an IR in September 1998. He maintained that registration through consecutive associations with two member firms between September 1988 and August 2004. From August 2004 through December 2016, he was registered as an Investment Representative with LPL.

In November 2004, Zullo also became registered as IP through his association with the Firm. Zullo maintained those registrations through his association with the Firm until December 2016. Zullo worked for the Firm as a broker-dealer agent and investment adviser representative in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

On January 10,2017, FINRA sent a request for information and documents pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210 to Zullo with a response date of January 24, 2017. Zullo, through his counsel, requested two extensions to the January 10 request. Pursuant to these requests, FINRA extended the response date to March 1,2017.

Zullo did not provide any documents or information to FINRA in response to the January 10 request. On March 2,2017, FINRA sent a second request for documents and information pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210 to Zullo with a response date of March 16, 2017. Zullo did not provide any documents or information to FINRA in response to the March 2 request.

The resulting FINRA punishment is a permanent bar from the securities industry.

Glenn Robert King investment losses

Over the course of his career, New Jersey broker Glenn Robert King, most recently of Royal Alliance and Buckman, Buckman and Reid,  has been accused many times of inappropriate action leading to investment loss of his investors.  His record discloses 25 disclosure events.  Disclosure events can be either lawsuits/judgments, terminations, regulatory investigations, bankruptcies, or written investor complaints seeking recovery.  His employers had a duty to provide heightened supervision to King in light of this extensive history but apparently failed to supervise adequately.  Investors may call for a free and confidential consultation with a private attorney by calling 1-866-817-0201.

A FINRA Hearing Officer in the most recent action found that King: 1) willfully misrepresented and omitted material facts, which constitutes fraud, when he sold 44 unit investment trusts (“UITs”) to seven customers; 2) excessively traded the accounts of four customers when he traded the customers’ UITs and closed-end mutual funds (“CEFs”) on a short-term basis (a suitability violation because the expense and commissions of trading were more than the reasonable benefit to the investor of such trades ); 3) made unsuitable recommendations to the same four investors when he recommended that they purchase UITs and CEFs as short-term trading investments; and 4) exercised discretion in the accounts of the four customers without written consent or approval. The Hearing Officer barred King for the fraud and imposed an additional bar on him for the suitability violations. In light of the bars, the Hearing Officer declined to impose sanctions on King for the improper exercise of discretion.

After an independent review of the record, FINRA affirmed the Hearing Officer’s findings of liability of King for the excessive trading and improper exercise of discretion in investor accounts, but we reverse the Hearing Officer’s findings of liability related to the fraud and unsuitable recommendations. For sanctions, FINRA decided to bar King for excessive trading in his investors’ accounts. In light of this bar, FINRA declined to impose sanctions on King for his improper discretionary trading.

In February 1992, Glenn Robert King registered with FINRA as a securities broker.  During the periods relevant to the conduct for the most recent allegations, April 2008 to March 2011 and January 2013 to December 2014, King was registered with Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (“Royal Alliance”) and Buckman, Buckman & Reid, Inc. (“Buckman Reid”), respectively. King joined Royal Alliance as a broker in January 2005. He voluntarily terminated his association with the firm in June 2011. In January 2012, King registered with Buckman Reid as general securities representative. King voluntarily left Buckman Reid in June 2015. King has not registered with another FINRA member firm since he terminated his association with Buckman Reid.

 

Geraldine Gordon Investment Loss

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson, PC represents investors suffering losses as the result of adviser mismanagement, such as the investment losses of investors of Geraldine Gordon of Ameriprise.  Ms. Gordon has been accused by FINRA regulators of inappropriately recommending oil and gas investments.  Concentrating such unorthodox investments in an investor’s portfolio can be unsuitable, which is mismanagement of a portfolio and in some cases fraudulent.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

The regulatory filing highlights the plight of one such investor.  On June 2013, Gordon recommended to one of her investors that she liquidate a number of
diversified investments in her Ameriprise brokerage and IRA accounts, which
comprised approximately half (49.9%) of her liquid net worth. Ms. Gordon recommended that
this investor use those assets to purchase a Master Limited Partnership (“MLP”) focused
on the energy-sector. This investment is believed to be an investment in oil and gas.  The MLP’s prospectus described the investment as speculative.

Following Gordon’s recommendation, the investor invested a total of $334,000.00 in the
MLP investment through her Ameriprise brokerage and IRA accounts. The investor’s investment in the MLP comprised a large portion of the investor’s liquid net worth at the time.

blog_gulf_mexico_oil_rigFINRA Rule 2111, the FINRA suitability rule, provides that when recommending the purchase, sale, or exchange of any security to an investor, a securities broker “must have a
reasonable basis to believe that a recommended transaction [...] is suitable for the
customer, based on the information obtained through the reasonable diligence of
the member or associated person to ascertain the customer’ s investment profile.”

Gordon’ s recommendation that her investor invest half of her liquid net worth in this
single sector-focused, in this case an oil and gas, MLP was not suitable for the investor in light of the investor’s financial condition and the excessively concentrated nature of the investment.

Many state regulators have rule the suitability requirement even more restrictively.  Some have limited the investment in such an investment to 10% of the investor’s liquid net worth.

One of the concerns with MLP investments is that many pay an extremely high commission to the broker, which is usually not disclosed.  This can cause some brokers to recommend MLPs despite the inherent risks in the investment to those who cannot afford to take such risks.