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Posts Tagged ‘Amerivet Securities vs FINRA’

Let’s Go To the Videotape: “Attorney Claims Wall Street’s Cop, FINRA, Invested in Madoff”

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 20th, 2011 9:02 AM |

Did you ever have one of those days where you just feel like watching a movie or perhaps checking out a preview?

I feel like today, a Friday in the latter part of May, is one of those days.

I am guessing that market activity may be muted so let’s go into our “archives” for a clip in which numerous questions posed by an attorney bringing suit against Wall Street’s self-regulator, the head of the Madoff Investors Coalition, and yours truly are on display. Former SEC chair Harvey Pitt provides a rejoinder. The bulk of the questions raised in this clip are key points in the aforementioned suit, voluminous details of which are included in this compendium, Amerivet Securities v FINRA.

Be careful not to spill your popcorn or your soda because some of what you may see and hear during this 18 minute clip might truly disturb you.  (more…)

Judge Rakoff Dismisses Suit Against Mary Schapiro and FINRA Under Absolute Immunity

Posted by Larry Doyle on March 1st, 2010 5:49 PM |

America should be reviled when those charged with upholding the law overseeing our markets are not held to that standard themselves.

Today is a very dark day for those in our country who cherish the virtues of truth, transparency, and integrity.

Why am I despondent? This afternoon, Judge Jed Rakoff issued a ruling dismissing the lawsuit brought on behalf of Standard Investment Chartered against Mary Schapiro and other FINRA executives. What is the basis for Judge Rakoff’s dismissal? He allowed the defense the cover of absolute immunity in the merger of the NASD with NYSE Regulation to form FINRA. (more…)

Is FINRA’s Future in Doubt?

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 23rd, 2010 2:04 PM |

Are the days of Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization known as FINRA numbered?

In the opinion of the very credible Project on Government Oversight, they should be. Why? Significant failures, massive conflicts of interest, and more. POGO’s comprehensive and scathing letter to four separate House and Senate committees touches upon every failing within FINRA, with the exception of the integrity of the proxy statement used in the formation of the organization itself. Strong allegations in a current lawsuit against FINRA make the case that Mary Schapiro lied verbally during roadshows and in the proxy statement. (For details on this lawsuit read here.)

Despite not addressing the issues embedded in that lawsuit, POGO touches all the other bases and covers all the other issues surrounding this organization. (more…)

FINRA Board to Form Committee to Review Claims of Schapiro Misconduct

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 14th, 2010 7:54 AM |

Sense on Cents is bumping this story back up from its original posting for a number of reasons, including:
1. the recent comment left by Disenchanted;
2. the fact that this evening
NQR’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle Welcomes Michael Smallberg will address this topic; and
3. most importantly, this topic deserves as much attention as possible!!

Thanks. LD


When in doubt, form a committee and have more meetings. This rope-a-dope style of leadership is all too prevalent in our nation. Why is it that the Wall Street-Washington incest can not be exposed for what it really is? When will somebody in our country display integrity and leadership while acknowledging the existence and stench of this incest? (more…)

FINRA Board to Form Committee to Review Claims of Schapiro Misconduct

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 12th, 2010 4:53 PM |

When in doubt, form a committee and have more meetings. This rope-a-dope style of leadership is all too prevalent in our nation. Why is it that the Wall Street-Washington incest can not be exposed for what it really is? When will somebody in our country display integrity and leadership while acknowledging the existence and stench of this incest?

Recall that the board of FINRA was meeting this past Wednesday to address allegations of misconduct by Mary Schapiro and other FINRA execs. Although the media has presented this meeting as merely addressing questions of excessive compensation for Ms. Schapiro and others, the allegations of misconduct made by attorneys for Amerivet Securities run far deeper than that.

These allegations address the following: (more…)

Lawsuits Trying for Transparency at FINRA

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 21st, 2009 2:55 PM |

Will the American public receive real transparency from the financial regulatory community? We will learn a lot more over the next 6 weeks.

Bloomberg News has filed a Freedom of Information request compelling the Federal Reserve to release information on loans it made to a wide array of banks. The Fed is currently appealing a judge’s order requiring the release of this information. The judge is expected to rule on the Fed’s appeal by month end. Sense on Cents will be monitoring this situation closely.

A second situation which has received less public notice but is no less important revolves around two lawsuits filed by a Washington D. C. law firm, Cuneo, Gilbert and LaDuca against FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). High five to BA for bringing this story to my attention. The Corporate Crime Reporter highlighted these suits the other day and writes:

They say sunlight is the best disinfectant.

If so, then Jonathan Cuneo is on a campaign to disinfect FINRA.

Cuneo and his law firm – Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca – have three lawsuits pending against the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

In each, FINRA is being represented by F. Joseph Warin of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

“FINRA is the largest private regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States, yet it is run like a secret society,” Cuneo told Corporate Crime Reporter. “The organization claims to promote transparency in the financial industry, while simultaneously fighting a battle to hide very basic information from its members and the public. Our lawsuits challenge this secrecy and aim to bring accountability to this organization.”

Two of the lawsuits – Benchmark Financial Services v. FINRA and Standard Investment v. FINRA – allege that FINRA member firms are due more than the $35,000 they received as part of the 2007 merger between National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the regulatory arm of the New York Stock Exchange – a merger that resulted in the creation of FINRA.

At the time of the merger negotiations, NASD told its members that because it was a non-profit, the most it could pay each firm was $35,000.

But in March 2007, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a private letter ruling which indicated that in fact NASD could pay a lot more than $35,000.

How much more is a secret.

Earlier this month, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that amount of money the IRS said NASD could pay each firm was confidential.

The NASD told its members at the time of the merger negotiations that the source of the $35,000 “was projected future savings resulting from anticipated efficiencies of the consolidated entity.”

“This was false,” the Benchmark lawsuit declares. “The true source of the funds was an over $1 billion fund that constituted a portion of NASD’s member’s equity, a pool of cash that had been amassed largely as a result of the development and sale of the NASDAQ stock trading system.”

“The misrepresentation was designed to deceive members into believing that they should accept the amount offered lest they upset the NASD’s projections of future efficiencies and cause difficulties for the consolidated entity going forward. Defendants knew that if they told members the truth – that they would be paid $35,000 each (or a total of $175 million) out of their own equity fund of more than $1 billion – they risked a wide-open evaluation demand scenario that would have delayed, invited more scrutiny concerning – and potentially even threatened – the whole transaction.”

The Benchmark lawsuit alleges that one motivation for the merger was to secure higher executive compensation for officers.

Mary Schapiro is currently the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Before leaving to the SEC, Schapiro was CEO of NASD, then FINRA.

In 2006, before the merger, Schapiro’s compensation was $1.9 million.

In 2007, as head of the newly created FINRA, her compensation jumped to $3 million.

“The amounts of total executive compensation are eye-popping by any measure, but are especially staggering for a non-profit institution,” the lawsuit alleges. (more…)

Madoff Victims Call Out FINRA

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 3rd, 2009 8:26 AM |

Is Uncle Sam, in the form of the SEC, attempting to issue a mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the bungling of the Madoff investigation and trying to conveniently turn the page?

The American public learned very little with the release of the SEC Inspector General David Kotz’s review of the SEC’s failure to expose the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. In fact, having just finished reading the Executive Summary of his investigation, I would maintain it is largely an extended regurgitation of much of what Harry Markopolos provided in his Congressional testimony last February.

What was Harry’s conclusion of his exhaustive pursuit to expose the Madoff scam? The SEC is incompetent.

What was the Inspector General’s conclusion from his investigation? In so many words, Kotz lays out the same results. The SEC was incompetent on so many fronts from the early 1990s until Madoff was exposed last December. For those who would like to read Kotz’s 22-page summary of his investigation, just click on the image below.

Is this all the public gets? Is this all the public can expect from our regulators? Nothing more than a mea maxima culpa? How about a real pursuit of the total truth? This Madoff affair has many more legs. Let’s navigate.

Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, head of the Madoff Victims Coalition for Investor Protection (my guest on NQR’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle on August 16th), and her husband Dominic comment on the Inspector General’s report and simultaneously call out FINRA last evening during an interview on Fox Business News.

Ronnie Sue and Dominic effectively connect the dots while highlighting the following:

1. Current head of the SEC Mary Schapiro formerly headed FINRA

2. Harry Markopolos defined FINRA as being “in bed” with the industry when he provided Congressional testimony this past February detailing his decade-long pursuit to expose the Madoff Ponzi scam.

3. FINRA had an internal investment portfolio (Sense on Cents would add that the portfolio was invested in hedge funds, fund of funds, and also had hundreds of millions in Auction-Rate Securities).

4. Amerivet Securities has recently filed a complaint against FINRA. The complaint indicates it has information and reason to believe that FINRA’s investment portfolio invested in Madoff.

Sense on Cents would add that the Amerivet complaint looks to have FINRA provide a full and thorough review of the following:

>> interactions with the major Wall Street banks

>> its compensation practices

>> its liquidation of its auction-rate securities position in 2007

>> all investment activities

Sense on Cents would further add that the Madoff family had extensive relationships with the NASD, Nasdaq (Bernie helped establish this exchange) and FINRA.

Let’s listen to Ronnie Sue and Dominic Ambrosino:

Is the Madoff investigation over? Any rational individual can understand there are many more regulatory questions needing answers. Where do those questions lead us? Inside FINRA and specifically to its investment portfolio. Why shouldn’t a Wall Street self-regulatory organization mandated to protect investors be obligated, and if need be compelled, to provide total transparency of all its business dealings?

I can only hope major media outlets and Washington pick up this story and understand the need to fully investigate FINRA.

I ask you again . . . is the Madoff investigation over? Not by a long shot!

What do you think?


Related Sense on Cents Commentary:
“Amerivet Complaint Against FINRA Alleges Madoff Investment” (August 25, 2009)
NoQuarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle Interviews Head of Bernard Madoff Victims Coalition (August 16, 2009)
“FINRA Is Supposed to Police the Market” (April 29, 2009)
“Riveting Testimony from a Great American, Harry Markopolos” (February 4, 2009)

BREAKING NEWS: Amerivet Complaint Against FINRA Alleges Madoff Investment

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 25th, 2009 10:47 AM |

Two weeks ago, Amerivet Securities filed a complaint against FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), the Wall Street self-regulatory organization. This morning, Donna Mitchell of Financial Planning provides further insight on this complaint. Ms. Mitchell writes FINRA Rebuffs Amerivet’s Demand to Inspect Records. She reports:

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) says it will not open its books and records to inspection by Amerivet Securities, the California brokerage firm which recently sued the regulator.

“We disclose a great deal of public information in our annual reports, far more than we are required to do,” says Herb Perone, a spokesman for FINRA. “Our records are not open for public examination.”

Sense on Cents questions why any financial self-regulatory organization mandated to protect investors would not be required to fully open all of its books and records for public review. Additionally, having extensively studied all of FINRA’s annual reports as well as those of its predecessor, the NASD, I echo the questions being raised by Amerivet. Does FINRA have any appreciation for the need for total truth and transparency in our markets and economy? The questions beg: why won’t FINRA fully open its books? are they trying to hide something? do they have reason to be concerned?


Financial Planning continues:

The request for records is part of a civil suit filed Aug. 10 in the Superior Court of Washington, D.C., by Inglewood, Calif.-based Amerivet Securities. It stems from a July 23 letter sent to FINRA from Amerivet, in which the company initially asked to review FINRA’s documents.

In the lawsuit, Amerivet accuses FINRA of a litany of wrongdoings, from mismanaging the organization’s investment assets to placing substantial funds with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, the former broker-dealer and investment advisory firm that was brought down amid a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

WOW! The allegation of an investment by FINRA in Madoff is a BLOCKBUSTER. What information did Amerivet and its legal representation unearth to make this allegation? This information must be revealed and FINRA must open its books and records to address this charge. (Click on image to access copy of Amerivet complaint)

Financial Planning further reports:

Amerivet also alleges that FINRA failed to regulate and oversee the operations of large securities firms such as the former Bear Stearns & Co., the former Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch & Co., and Stanford Financial Group.

Amerivet also claims that FINRA overpaid its executives, sustained investment-related losses of $568 million and separately incurred substantial losses in the auction-rate securities market. “FINRA has failed in what it represents in its advertising to be its core function, i.e. the protection of investors,” Amerivet says in the lawsuit.

Is there any doubt that FINRA has failed to protect investors? Is there any doubt that senior executives at FINRA were paid handsomely?

In regard to the auction-rate securities allegation, is Amerivet maintaining that FINRA lost money on the ARS which it owned or is Amerivet referring to money lost by investors? Details of FINRA’s liquidation of ARS in 2007 must be released. Did FINRA front-run the market in the course of selling its own ARS?


Financial Planning gains a degree of insight from FINRA and reports:

FINRA would not comment about the lawsuit directly, but Perone said the organization had steered clear of investing with Madoff.

“As for any claim or question as to whether we had money invested with Madoff, we had no investments of any kind in Madoff or in any of its feeder funds,” Perone said.

The allegations and implications of the Amerivet complaint strike right at the core of our financial regulatory framework. Any credible media outlet should be running the Amerivet complaint as a lead story.

The American public deserves answers.



Related Sense on Cents Commentary:

Amerivet Securities Files Complaint vs. FINRA for Release of Investment Information and More (August 17, 2009)
FINRA Must Play by Its Own Rules (August 19, 2009)


UPDATE as of 11:20AM – Financial Planning has removed from its website the article referenced in this post. I am in the process of receiving the actual Amerivet complaint and will review it and comment later this afternoon.

UPDATE as of 12:05PM – I just received a copy of the Amerivet Securities vs. FINRA complaint.  See pages 8-9, points #24-28 for details regarding the allegation that FINRA was invested with Bernie Madoff.

FINRA Must Play by Its Own Rules

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 19th, 2009 11:21 AM |

Will the pressure being applied on FINRA compel this Wall Street self-regulatory organization to open its books and records? I am heartened and hopeful that the complaint filed by Amerivet Securities against FINRA will do just that.

High five to RS for sharing this complaint, Amerivet Securities v. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Amerivet requests FINRA open its books for purposes of reviewing FINRA’s (and the NASD’s) engagement, oversight, and investment activities broadly speaking.

My major axe with FINRA remains its liquidation of Auction-Rate Securities in 2007. I would ask the judge who is hearing the Amerivet complaint to review a September 2008 document produced by FINRA in regard to the Auction-Rate Securities debacle. I submit Testimony by Susan L. Merrill, Executive Vice-President, Chief of Enforcement, Concerning Auction-Rate Securities Markets to Committee on Financial Services U.S. House of Representatives September 18, 2008.

Ms. Merrill promotes that as part of FINRA’s investigation of the ARS market, it would also focus on:

possible conflicts of interest where a firm may have been in possession of knowledge about ARS failures and liquidated their proprietary ARS positions by selling those positions to customers or ahead of customer liquidations.

Ms. Merrill, Ms. Schapiro, Mr. Ketchum, and members of the House Committee on Financial Services, Sense on Cents calls on all of you to hold FINRA to the same standard you would apply to every bank, broker-dealer, and money manager involved in the Auction-Rate Securities market.

I can only hope the judge handling the Amerivet complaint is able to review Ms. Merrill’s testimony.

FINRA must release all information regarding the liquidation of ARS from its investment portfolio in 2007.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.


Amerivet Securities Files Complaint vs. FINRA for Release of Investment Information and More

Posted by Larry Doyle on August 17th, 2009 11:53 AM |

The temperature is rising in the FINRA kitchen!!

Major high five to ARS investor ED for pointing out a breaking Bloomberg story that strikes right at the heart of our financial regulatory failings over the last number of years. Bloomberg reports Iraq Vet Asks Why Securities Overseers Can’t See.

This complaint encompasses a number of questions Sense on Cents has been asking over the last several months. As Bloomberg reports:

Amerivet Securities Inc. v. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a complaint filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court on Aug. 10 against Finra, the regulator whose Web site boasts of “proactively addressing emerging regulatory issues before they harm investors or the markets.”

If you can stifle your chortling over Finra’s psychotic break of a self-description and pay attention, the Amerivet complaint is example of regulators and those they regulate at their farcical finest.

Plaintiff Amerivet is run by Lieutenant Colonel Elton Johnson Jr., a one-time Special Forces soldier who served two tours of duty in Iraq in the U.S. Army Reserve, earning a bronze star and other decorations. Johnson has a long history with Finra — previously NASD — whose enforcement arm first went after him in 1997, censuring and fining him for violations of minimum capital requirements and for failing to file municipal securities offerings on a timely basis.

Complaining to Bush

Most recently, Finra suspended him as a supervisor from December 2006 to June 2008 because he didn’t properly manage an employee. Johnson says in his stockbroker records that the case was retaliation by Finra, which didn’t like it when he wrote to President George W. Bush to complain about how Finra was treating him.

While it does seem more than a little weird that Finra would bring a case in 2006 based on actions that happened a decade earlier, it’s hard not to wonder whether Johnson — with Army obligations, a real estate license, a firearms business and a private-detective operation — is a guy who might be a tad too busy to keep up with the details that a well-run brokerage firm should attend to.

His lawsuit against Finra, though, provides a funhouse window into what’s wrong with securities regulation. (more…)

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