Merrill Lynch Pays Back Unapproved Loan to Customer
Michael Ross Highfill of Ridgeland Mississippi a stockbroker formerly employed by Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Incorporated is referenced in a customer initiated investment related complaint which was resolved on June 22, 2016 for $215,000.00 in damages supported by accusations that (1) Highfill inappropriately steered the customer towards loaning Highfill funds in connection with an outside business activity and (2) Highfill made an investment recommendation to the customer which was not suitable for the customer while Highfill was associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith incorporated.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Public Disclosure confirms that that this is the first complaint concerning Highfill’s conduct since he was barred by FINRA from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity. Particularly, Highfill was barred according to an Order accepting Offer of Settlement containing findings that Highfill failed to cooperate with FINRA during its investigation into Highfill’s alleged solicitation of a loan from a senior Merrill Lynch customer; and Highfill’s alleged failure to apprise the firm about the outside business activities that he potentially engaged in. Department of Enforcement v. Michael Ross Highfill STAR No. 2015045652501 (Aug. 6, 2015).
According to the Order, in June of 2015 and July of 2015, Highfill was instructed by FINRA to furnish information and documentation in regard to the allegations of Highfill’s conduct. Evidently, Highfill failed to respond to both of those requests. FINRA found Highfill’s conduct violative of FINRA Rule 8210 and 2010.
Highfill was discharged by Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Incorporated on May 8, 2015 based upon the firm’s accusations that Highfill partook in unapproved outside business activities and entered into a customer loan arrangement without Highfill ever having notified the firm or procured its approval.