Petersen Investments Sued For Unauthorized Trading

John Fotis Valliades, of New York, New York, a stockbroker registered with Petersen Investments Inc., has been fined $5,000.00 and suspended from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon consenting to findings that he placed trades in customers’ accounts without authorization. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent, No. 2014042721002 (Dec. 20, 2016).

According to the AWC, from March of 2011 to March of 2014, discretion had been exercised by Valliades in the accounts of three customers. The customers and Valliades reportedly communicated with each other about investments; however, Valliades placed trades in their accounts on days other than when he had communicated with them. The AWC stated that Valliades’ time and price discretion was never authorized by the customers, and his trading was not otherwise approved by the firm. Consequently, FINRA found that Valliades’ conduct was violative of FINRA Rule 2010 and NASD Rule 2510(b).

FINRA Public Disclosure confirms that Valliades has been identified in eight customer initiated investment related disputes containing allegations of Valliades’ misconduct while employed with Petersen Investments, Inc., Gruntal & Co., L.L.C., Smith Barney, Inc., and Salomon Smith Barney Inc.

Specifically, on April 26, 2002, a customer initiated investment related written complaint involving Valliades’ conduct was settled for $7,500.00 in damages founded on accusations that Valliades overconcentrated the customer’s assets in risky options positions, churned the customer’s investment account, and traded over-the-counter equities that were not suitable for the customer.

On August 27, 2013, a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim involving Valliades’ conduct was settled for $23,600.00 in damages based upon allegations that Valliades employed aggressive sales tactics to effect his customer’s options trading, and represented those investments improperly as having been risk free and safe. FINRA Arbitration No. 12-00431 (Aug. 27, 2013). On April 4, 2016, a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim regarding Valliades’ activities was resolved for $285,000.00 in damages based upon allegations of failure to supervise, fraud, unauthorized transactions, and churning of the customer’s stock and over-the-counter equity investments. FINRA Arbitration No. 14-02739 (Apr. 4, 2016).

Valliades has been associated with seven different broker dealers, one of which has been expelled by securities regulators for violation of federal securities laws or is otherwise defunct.

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