FINRA Bars Securities Service Network Stockbroker In Theft Scheme
Louis Cook (also known as Lou Cook) of Knoxville Tennessee a stockbroker formerly registered with National Planning Corporation and Securities Service Network LLC has been barred from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon findings that customer funds were improperly used by Cook and that misrepresentations were made to customers by the stockbroker. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2018057690301 (Mar. 3, 2020).
According to the AWC, eleven of Cook’s customers at National Planning Corporation who purchased annuities through him had each received a cover letter which contained misrepresentations about a third party authorization form attached to the cover letter. Cook conveyed in that cover letter that the form was required for Cook’s continued service of the customers’ annuities. The letter indicated that a fiduciary rule implemented by Department of Labor called for the form to be completed. Cook also stated that customers’ choices would be limited in the future if they did not take action.
FINRA stated that there were no authorizations required for Cook’s ongoing involvement with customers’ accounts and that there were no requirements triggered by Department of Labor calling for customers to complete the authorization forms. The AWC stated that customers’ choices were not inhibited by their failure to complete the forms. Cook received eleven signed third party authorization forms from his customers after making these misrepresentations. FINRA stated that Cook violated FINRA Rule 2010.
Although the third party forms enabled withdrawals to be effected from customers’ annuities by Cook, those customers did not authorize any funds to be used by Cook for his personal use.
From August of 2016 to February of 2018, during the time that he was associated with both National Planning Corporation and Securities Service Network, he effected more than $150,000.00 in withdrawals from customers’ policies. Those funds were placed into his own bank account constituting his improper use of customer funds. FINRA found that Cook violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 2150(a) in this respect.
Cook has been identified in two customer initiated investment related disputes concerning accusations of his misconduct during the time that he was employed by MetLife and National Planning Corporation. FINRA Public Disclosure confirms that a customer filed an investment related complaint concerning Cook’s activities where the customer sought $11,036.00 in damages founded on accusations of Cook’s unauthorized withdrawals from the customer’s MetLife account to pay life insurance policy premiums.
Cook is referenced in another customer initiated investment related written complaint which was settled for $47,498.00 on June 8, 2018 supported by allegations of Cook’s failure to disclose fees that he caused to be debited from the customer’s annuity.
Cook’s registration with Securities Service Network was terminated on March 6, 2018 following the securities broker dealer’s internal probe into Cook’s debiting of customer accounts.