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A German village along the Rhine, north of Düsseldorf The D&O Diary was on assignment in Germany for meetings this past week, with four stops on a crowded itinerary. I have been to Germany during the winter months many times before and I have learned that the weather can be OK or it can be lousy. But nothing in my prior experience prepared me for the weather this past week, which, with the exception of one gloomy day, was really pretty spectacular, at least for this time of the year.   My busy German itinerary began in the Northern city of Hamburg, a great place that I have visited and enjoyed before. Hamburg is  full of rivers, lakes, and canals. While Hamburg’s Elbe River port area is heavily industrialized, many of the city’s other waterways are quite scenic. Many of the waterways wind through pleasant, comfortable residential areas.   A view of Hamburg’s industrialized port area, on the Elbe River.     A view of Hamburg…
Author: Kevin LaCroix
Posted: February 17, 2019, 7:59 pm
From The New York Times:Filing Taxes on Your Phone? Insert Frustrated-Face Emoji HereMillions of people are expected to submit their returns via mobile platforms this year. I won't be one of them.https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/your-money/taxes/file-taxes-phone-mobile-app.html
Author: Mark Astarita
Posted: February 17, 2019, 7:20 pm
On January 28, 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) added Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and a primary source of the country’s income and foreign currency, to its list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”). Norton Rose Fulbright has prepared a Legal Update on this development and its implications for US and non-US entities. A 2017 Norton Rose Fulbright briefing on previously imposed Venezuela sanctions can be accessed here. Additional information on the OFAC Venezuela sanctions program can be accessed on the OFAC website here. The Legal Update was written by: Stephen M. McNabb, a partner in the Norton Rose Fulbright Washington, DC office Kimberly Hope Caine, a senior counsel in the Norton Rose Fulbright Washington, DC office Katie McDougall, Of Counsel in the Norton Rose Fulbright London office Manny Levitt, an…
Author: Kathleen Scott (US)
Posted: February 16, 2019, 7:06 pm
Rex Securities Law- Stockbroker Malpractice Attorney. Nationwide representation. February 2019 – Austin, Texas FINRA recently sanctioned Austin-based Kestra Investment Services (formerly NFP Advisor Services) for over charging more than 3,000 who qualified for waiver of front end sales fees on certain mutual fund purchase. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the agency that licenses and regulates stockbrokers and brokerage firms. FINRA requires brokers … Continue reading Kestra Investment Services Assessed Regulatory Fine Over Mutual Fund Sales-Austin, TX → The post Kestra Investment Services Assessed Regulatory Fine Over Mutual Fund Sales-Austin, TX appeared first on Rex Securities Law BLOG.
Author: Rex Securities Law
Posted: February 16, 2019, 6:12 pm
The Chicago-based securities and investment fraud attorneys at Stoltmann Law Offices are investigating claims by victims of former Securities America financial advisor Hector May. According to the criminal information filed against Mr. May in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Mr. May was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and investment advisory fraud in Case No. 18-cr-00880. On January 14, 2019, May’s guilty plea was formally accepted by Judge Vincent L. Briccetti. His sentencing date has yet to be provided by the court. By pleading guilty, May consented to a monetary judgment of $11,452,185 and agreed to forfeit certain property including multiple fur coats, Cartier bracelets, and Rolex watches. According to published reports, on February 14, 2019, the SEC formally barred May from the securities industry. This bar seems obvious given he pleaded guilty to criminal charges, but the SEC cannot proceed with any…
Author: Andrew Stoltmann
Posted: February 16, 2019, 5:31 am
On February 8, 2019, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce delivered a speech at the symposium ”Protecting the Public While Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship: First Principles for Optimal Regulation.” Her remarks, entitled “Regulation: A View from Inside the Machine,” provide insight into how SEC regulators currently view certain technological innovations and how they interpret and apply the Howey test as to when something is an “investment contract,” and therefore a security, for purposes of the US federal securities laws. Commissioner Peirce began by noting the challenges that the SEC is facing with respect to new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies. As such, the SEC has been considering if these technologies fit into existing securities rules or instead if a new regulatory framework should be created. “If we act appropriately, we can enable innovation on this new frontier to proceed without compromising the…
Author: Andrew Lom (US) and Rachael Browndorf (US)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 9:27 pm
Broker Investigation – Floyd Earl Powell  – Albertville, AL According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the regulator has barred former financial advisor Floyd Earl Powell from associating with any FINRA member at any time. FINRA states in a Letter of Acceptance, Wavier & Consent, that between July 2016 and December 2017, Powell allegedly solicited investors to purchase promissory notes relating to the Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC, a purported real estate investment fund. According to FINRA, Powell allegedly sold $3,491,707 in Woodbridge notes to 13 investors, 11 of whom were customers of MML or MSI, his previous member firms. Powell reportedly received a total of $103,598 in commissions in connection with these transactions. On December 4, 2017, Woodbridge filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. Powell did not provide notice to either firm, MML or MSI, prior to participating in these private securities transactions, nor…
Author: Renae Lloyd
Posted: February 15, 2019, 8:45 pm
Ex-Merrill Lynch Broker Will Pay $5M Penalty and Serve Time In Prison A federal judge has sentenced Thomas Buck, an ex-Merrill Lynch broker, to 40 months in prison. Buck pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2017. As part of his plea, he admitted to lying to Merrill about telling clients about their account options, and, at certain times, making trades for them without getting their approval. That year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had filed a complaint against Buck accusing him of making over $2.5M in excessive commissions and fees from more than four dozen clients. The SEC contends that Buck placed clients into accounts that charged them commissions instead of ones that were fee-based and not as costly. The regulator also accused him of making unauthorized trades. The Commission barred the former Merrill broker from the investment advisory and brokerage industries last year. Until Merrill Lynch terminated his employment in 2015, Buck was…
Author: ccollins
Posted: February 15, 2019, 7:32 pm
Arbitration is a formal alternative to courtroom litigation for resolving issues with neutral third party “arbitrators” issuing a binding decision after the litigants present their facts and argument. Compared to the usual courtroom procedures, arbitration is a faster, affordable and less formal legal proceeding.  FINRA, a self-regulatory-agency for the securities industry, controls the largest, most prominent arbitration forum for securities disputes. A full FINRA arbitration proceedings from initiation through hearing can take on average 16 months, but cases often are settled before the end. Sick or elderly claimants may request an expedited arbitration process within nine months. There are a wide range of reasons that investors might want to make a legal claim against their broker-dealer and broker firm. When opening an account with brokerage firms, investors sign a contract that often contains a clause that makes handling disputes through FINRA arbitration…
Author: Malecki Law Team
Posted: February 15, 2019, 7:02 pm
Blowback related to the collapse of a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme continues, as FINRA recently barred a broker for selling $3.5 million worth of promissory notes for the Woodbridge Group of Companies. Purportedly a real estate investment scheme, the Woodbridge Group of Companies imploded last year. It was later revealed that the scheme was Ponzi-like in nature, meaning that funds from new generations of investors were used to pay returns to earlier generations. Just last month, a judge in Florida awarded more than $1 billion in damages to the thousands of victims taken in by the real estate fund.FINRA & Judiciary Come Down Hard on Woodbridge NetworkIn order to strengthen the message that such schemes will not be tolerated, and will be punished tot he fullest extent of the law, the financial industry watchdog agency, FINRA, has begun to look at the role of individual brokers in shoring up the Woodbridge scam. After all, Woodbridge’s success, during which it swelled to…
Author: Green, Schafle & Gibbs
Posted: February 15, 2019, 4:47 pm
Hector May – Securities America – Recovery of Investment Losses According to reports yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission has barred former Securities America broker Hector May for allegedly running a $7.9 million Ponzi scheme with his daughter who served as the controller of his investment advisory firm. Hector May, the president of Executive Compensation Planners Inc., a now-defunct investment adviser and financial planning firm in New City, reportedly pleaded guilty December 13, 2018 to participating in a conspiracy to defraud investment advisory clients out of more than $11 million. Shortly thereafter, the SEC reportedly charged May and his daughter, Vania Bell, with allegedly running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. May reportedly served as president and chief compliance officer of Executive Compensation Planners Inc., an investment advisory firm registered in New York. According to his FINRA BrokerCheck report, May was a registered…
Author: Renae Lloyd
Posted: February 15, 2019, 4:12 pm
By Anne Sherry, J.D. A stockholder’s demand on the full board of United Airlines that it claw back severance paid to ousted CEO Jeffery Smisek did not concede the disinterestedness or independence of the special committee that rejected that demand. However, the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed the pension fund’s derivative complaint on the basis that it failed to plead with sufficient particularity that the special committee was conflicted (City of Tamarac Firefighters’ Pension Trust Fund v. Corvi, February 12, 2019, McCormick, K.). David Samson, then Port Authority chairman, proposed to Smisek that United reinstitute an unprofitable route between Newark, New Jersey, and Columbia, South Carolina, where Samson owned a vacation home. Smisek agreed to reopen the route in exchange for Samson’s approval of projects at United’s regional hub. A federal investigation into an unrelated matter uncovered this arrangement in 2014, and Smisek and United…
Author: John Jascob
Posted: February 15, 2019, 3:08 pm
On 14 February 2019, the FCA issued a short performance statement on the operation of its memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bank of England (BoE) for market infrastructure. The FCA and the BoE have concluded that the MoU’s arrangements for co-operation remain effective, with appropriate co-ordination and no material duplication. The FCA and the BoE will update the MoU to ensure it continues to appropriately reflect their respective roles and responsibilities once the UK has left the EU.
Author: Catherine Blake (UK) and Hannah Meakin (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:56 am
On 13 February 2019, the FCA published a speech by Julia Hogett (JH) (Director of Market Oversight at the FCA) on the implementation of the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR). Highlights of the speech include the following: compliance with MAR requires a whole series of situational judgements to be made; a regulatory system that relies on controls that work by detecting when an event has happened, will never be as effective as a system that also helps ensure that misconduct does not happen in the first place. Whilst it is important that both regulators and participants have controls to detect suspicious behaviour, it is critical that consideration is given as to how the market from such is protected from behaviour occurring in the first place; firms need effective risk assessments and must consider for themselves the manner in which their systems and controls evolve as the risks within their businesses evolve; control of information leaving a firm is as important as control of…
Author: Imogen Garner (UK) and Iona Wright (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:55 am
On 14 February 2019, the Bank of England (BoE) published its annual report on the supervision of financial market infrastructures (FMIs). The report covers the period from 21 February 2018 to 14 February 2019. The report provides an overview of the supervisory work the BoE has carried out in the past year in relation to FMIs as well as the BoEs general approach to FMI supervision. At chapter 4, the report notes the BoEs future developments and priorities for 2019 in relation to FMIs: ongoing development and implementation of the BoE’s supervisory approach to FMIs; technological change at FMIs, including the next generation of payments infrastructure; a policy framework for operational resilience, including cyber resilience; developing a supervisory stress test for CCPs; and working to ensure that FMIs and the BoE as their supervisor are adequately prepared for Brexit. In box 3 of the report (page 21) the BoE discusses its preparations for Brexit.
Author: Catherine Blake (UK) and Hannah Meakin (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:54 am
On 14 February 2019, there was published on legislation.gov.uk, the Money Laundering and Transfer of Funds (Information) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, together with an explanatory memorandum. The draft statutory instrument has minor changes to the draft published by HM Treasury on 13 November 2018 (our blog is here). You can track the financial services Brexit EU Exit statutory instruments (as well as gain access to our Brexit resources) on our Brexit Pathfinder hub. Registration is free via the NRF Institute portal. Conformed copies of the EU Exit statutory instruments are available exclusively through our PathfinderPLUS service. To gain access to PathfinderPLUS, please contact Jochen Vester or Simon Lovegrove.
Author: Simon Lovegrove (UK) and Jochen Vester (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:52 am
On 14 February 2019, there was published on legislation.gov.uk, the Financial Conglomerates and Other Financial Groups (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, together with an explanatory memorandum. The statutory instrument has minor changes to the draft published by HM Treasury on 21 December 2018 (our blog is here). You can track the financial services Brexit EU Exit statutory instruments (as well as gain access to our Brexit resources) on our Brexit Pathfinder hub. Registration is free via the NRF Institute portal. Conformed copies of the EU Exit statutory instruments are available exclusively through our PathfinderPLUS service. To gain access to PathfinderPLUS, please contact Jochen Vester or Simon Lovegrove.
Author: Simon Lovegrove (UK) and Jochen Vester (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:50 am
On 14 February 2019, the Credit Rating Agencies (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 were published on legislation.gov.uk, together with an explanatory memorandum. The statutory instrument has minor changes to the draft published on 30 November 2018 (our blog is here). You can track the financial services Brexit EU Exit statutory instruments (as well as gain access to our Brexit resources) on our Brexit Pathfinder hub. Registration is free via the NRF Institute portal. Conformed copies of the EU Exit statutory instruments are available exclusively through our PathfinderPLUS service. To gain access to PathfinderPLUS, please contact Jochen Vester or Simon Lovegrove.
Author: Simon Lovegrove (UK) and Jochen Vester (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:47 am
On 14 February 2019, the Global Foreign Exchange Committee (GFXC) published reports produced by its Disclosures and Cover and Deal working groups and released results from the second annual survey on the FX Global Code. One report, “The Role of Disclosure and Transparency in the Global FX Market”, describes eight characteristics to help market participants develop and review FX disclosures and lays out the work ahead on understanding the challenges related to disclosures in the context of anonymous platform trading. The other, “The Role of ‘Cover Deal’ Arrangements in the Global FX Market”, describes various aspects of “cover and deal” arrangements and highlights specific, relevant principles within the Global FX Code that relate to such trading practices. Key findings in the 2018 GFXC survey include: 95% of respondents had read part or all of the FX Global Code, and over two-thirds were aware of the updates made to the FX Global…
Author: Hannah Meakin (UK) and Catherine Blake (UK)
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:46 am
Last week, Corp Fin issued new CDIs addressing board diversity disclosure issues.  Now, Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY) & Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced legislation that would require companies to disclose self-identified demographic info about their board & executive officers.  Here’s an excerpt from a recent Weil blog summarizing the proposed legislation: The bill, which garnered the support of the Council for Institutional Investors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, would require public companies to disclose annually in their proxy statements data on the racial, ethnic, and gender composition, as well as veteran status, of its board of directors, director nominees and executive officers based on voluntary self-identification. Moreover, disclosure regarding the adoption of any board policy, plan or strategy to promote racial, ethnic, and gender diversity would be required. The bill would also require the SEC’s Office of…
Author: John Jenkins
Posted: February 15, 2019, 11:00 am




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    Mark J. Astarita, Esq. represents investors, financial professionals and firms in litigation, arbitration and regulatory matters across the country. He is a partner in the national securities law firm of Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC and can be reached by email at mja@sallahlaw.com or by phone at 212-509-6544.

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