On May 8th., 2013, FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. fined three financial companies $900,000 in total, for failing to stop money laundering and other suspicious transactions, and officials at the firms were fined a total of $100,000.
“Today’s actions reinforce FINRA’s continued focus on firms’ ability to identify and respond to potential misuse and abuse of the markets,” said Brad Bennett, FINRA executive vice president and chief of enforcement. “Firms must have adequate anti-money-laundering and supervisory systems in place to detect and report suspicious transactions.”
FINRA fined Atlas One Financial Group LLC $350,000 and its former chief compliance officer, Napoleon Arturo Aponte, $25,000 and suspended him for three months. Also, FINRA fined Firstrade Securities Inc. $300,000, and World Trade Financial Corp. $250,000. World Trade Financial, president and owner Rodney Michel was fined $35,000 and suspended for four months, and chief compliance officer Frank Brickell was fined $40,000 and suspended for nine months. Minority owner Jason Adams was fined $5,000 and suspended for three months.
The firms and officials settled with FINRA without admitting or denying the charges.
FINRA claimed that Atlas One failed to detect suspicious activities in several accounts between February 2007 and May 2011. The Justice Department had opened a money-laundering investigation in 2007 on six accounts controlled by one customer, according to FINRA. Atlas One did not look into any other accounts — with the same Costa Rican mailing address — that were not involved in the Justice review. FINRA claimed Firstrade failed to detect suspicious trading activity by Chinese issuers.
World Trade Financial and its executives were fined for not implementing and enforcing a supervisory system for a penny stock operation that generated more than $61 million between March 2009 and August 2011.
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