The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) announced on August 14, 2019 that it issued a 12-month suspension and $10,000 fine to Cetera Advisors securities broker Roger Owens (CRD#: 2359204, Elkton, Maryland). Evidently, Owens submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”) on July 15, 2019, which FINRA accepted August 14, 2019. This AWC contains findings of Owens engaging in private securities transactions in violation of FINRA Rules 3280 and 2010. Here’s more on the findings of Owens selling away:
FINRA Says Roger Owens Solicited Woodbridge Investments Away From Cetera Advisors
First of all, Roger Owens violated FINRA Rule 3280. This rule prohibits securities brokers from selling investments, or facilitating investment transactions, outside the scope of the broker’s employment with their brokerage firm unless the firm knows about it and authorizes it. Specifically, securities brokers have to disclose their role in the private transaction and whether they will receive compensation.
Notably, Roger Owens failed to follow FINRA Rule 3280 because he sold securities behind Cetera’s back. Apparently, Owens told investors to buy promissory notes associated with Woodbridge Group of Companies. FINRA says that Owens sold 14 investors $1,170,000 worth of investments linked to this supposed real estate investment fund. Notably, 4 investors held Cetera accounts. The findings show that Owens made almost $60,000 in commissions for selling these investments.
Owens Falsely Attests To Not Selling Away From Cetera
The AWC reports that Cetera prohibited securities brokers from engaging in undisclosed private securities transactions. Supposedly, Roger Owens did not ask Cetera if he could sell Woodbridge investments. Not only that, but Owens placed false responses on 3 Cetera compliance questionnaires. It appears that in those questionnaires for the time period of 2016 to 2018, Owens told Cetera he did not involve himself in transactions without the securities firm’s consent.
Woodbridge Bankruptcy Places Investors At Risk Of Loss
Apparently, Woodbridge filed bankruptcy in December 2018 – a year after SEC charged Woodbridge and its owner, Robert Shapiro, with running a Ponzi Scheme. Allegedly, the Ponzi Scheme harmed more than 8,000 investors who purchased Woodbridge funds. Supposedly, many brokers who sold these investments suggested that they were conservative and low-risk. Eventually, SEC obtained a final judgement against Woodbridge which subjected Woodbridge and Shapiro to disgorgement and a civil penalty.
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