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Rick Johnson Weighs in on NASD and FINRA

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 6, 2009 2:50 PM |

Rick Johnson of First Coast Planning was my guest on NoQuarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle last spring. It just so happened that Rick was watching America’s Nightly Scoreboard on Fox Business News last Thursday evening when I was interviewed along with former SEC Chair Harvey Pitt, the head of the Madoff Victim’s Coalition Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, and Attorney Richard Greenfield representing Amerivet Securities in its complaint vs. FINRA.

Rick Johnson has had experience with the NASD and FINRA reviewing his own practice. He shares that and more in a recent blog post. Thank you Rick for the shout-out for Sense on Cents. Rick wrote this past Friday at his site, Keep Your Assets, Take My Advice:

Harvey Pitt Former SEC Commission is an Apologist for FINRA?

I was stunned last night watching Fox Business with David Asman. He had on his show two Madoff victims, Sue and Dominic Ambrosino, Larry Doyle of and former SEC Commissioner Harvey Pitt.

The tide is beginning to turn against FINRA. Larry Doyle has long spoken out against FINRA on his blog at Last night on Fox Business, LD mentioned the fact that FINRA had money in Auction Rate Securities in 2007, but inexplicably got their own money out before the Auction Rate Securities collapse. I guess they are an investor watchdog, but not when it comes to saving their own bacon.

Sue and Dominic Ambrosino are wise to FINRA and their culpability in the Madoff Scandal. They pointed out that FINRA has not been too transparent about whether they too lost money with Madoff. The latest FINRA Annual Report does not disclose whether they did or did not lose money with Madoff or one of his feeder funds. Word on the street is that they did lose money as a result of Madoff.

Former SEC Commissioner Harvey Pitt, not one of the best SEC Commissioners we ever had by the way, seemed to me to have been given talking points. He kept trying to hide the fact that FINRA and its predecessor organization was responsible for the Madoff mess. Pitt kept trying to keep the blame squarely on the SEC. This was stunning to witness from my perspective.

David Asman pointed out that Mary Shapiro was the former head of FINRA and now she is the head of the SEC. I have nothing against Ms. Shapiro, but it seems like they got someone at the helm of the SEC who can probably keep FINRA out of it. However, time will tell. FINRA is guilty as sin in my opinion. You cannot convince me that FINRA did not look the other way when it came to Bernie Madoff.

As a former NASD Registered Principal, I had my office gone through with a fine tooth comb by an ex-NASD Examiner for several years. Of course, I always had good exams. I can guarantee you, the guy that examined my office would have easily discovered the Ponzi scheme Madoff was running.

There is something amiss with regard to FINRA being able to dodge the Madoff scandal up until now. Hopefully, with Fox Business getting a little nosy, the truth will come out about FINRA and their cosy little relationship with Bernie Madoff.

Stay tuned.

Interesting insights from an individual who has had first hand experience with the NASD. Although Harvey Pitt and others would like to give FINRA and its parent a pass in regard to the Madoff situation, do not forget that Madoff did not register as an investment adviser until 2006. To that point, the SEC and NASD (FINRA’s parent) had regulatory oversight responsibilities over Madoff.

Thanks Rick for sharing your perspectives.


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