Ameriprise Broker Fined By FINRA For Unauthorized Trading

Leslie George Markus, Jr., of Center Valley, Pennsylvania, a stockbroker formerly registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. has been fined $10,000.00 and suspended for two years from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity according to a FINRA Office of Hearing Officers Hearing Panel Decision containing findings that Markus effected mutual fund trades without authorization, and made false representations to Ameriprise and FINRA about his activities. Department of Enforcement v. Leslie George Markus, Jr., Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2015047069701 (July 16, 2018).

According to the Decision, on August 4, 2015, eleven mutual fund purchases had been executed by Markus in customer JW’s account. Those transactions had been reportedly prompted by Markus after discovering that JW’s assets, unbeknownst to Markus, had been reallocated by JW to mainly cash positions. In submitting an Answer to FINRA’s November 17, 2017 three-cause Complaint, Markus acknowledged that he placed those mutual fund purchases without procuring the customer’s consent. FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers found that Markus’ conduct was violative of FINRA Rule 2010.

The Decision then revealed that Markus misrepresented his activities in Ameriprise’s SmartPad – a client note software system – by referencing that JW permitted his transactions. Specifically, Markus stated that he corresponded with JW and received approval from him to effect the eleven mutual fund purchases. Markus evidently admitted that his representation was false. The Decision stated that Markus intentionally concealed his wrongful conduct from the firm, which disrupted the firm’s ability to both supervise the transactions effected by its staff and protect the firm’s customer base. FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers found Markus’ activities in that regard to be violative of FINRA Rule 2010.

Moreover, Markus was cited for lying to FINRA in the course of FINRA’s investigation into his activities. In particular, Markus reportedly relayed to FINRA that JW provided Markus with approval to exercise time and price discretion in the customer’s account; however, this was not true. Markus apparently admitted he was not forthcoming to FINRA about his discretionary trading representations. Consequently, Markus’ conduct was found by FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers to be violative of FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010.

FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that Ameriprise discharged Markus on September 2, 2015 based upon accusations that he executed trades in customer accounts without permission and violated the terms of a disciplinary action plan. Markus’ registration with Lincoln Investment commenced on September 18, 2015.

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