Ameriprise Stockbroker Sanctioned For Unauthorized Trading

Steven Tarasius Yellen of El Paso Texas a stockbroker formerly registered with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. has been fined $25,000.00 and suspended for one year from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon findings which included that (1) unauthorized trades were executed in a customer’s investment account by Yellen and (2) trades had been marked by Yellen as unsolicited when those trades were solicited. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2018057175001 (Oct. 22, 2019).

According to the AWC, Yellen engaged in discretionary trading of customer accounts during the time that he was associated with Morgan Stanley. The stockbroker effected fourteen trades in the customer’s account despite the customer never having furnished written authorization to him, and without Yellen’s discretionary trading being authorized by Morgan Stanley. The AWC also stated that at least three annual compliance questionnaires had been completed by Yellen in which he claimed not to have executed trades utilizing discretion. FINRA determined that Yellen’s conduct was violative of 2510(b) and FINRA Rules 2010.

The AWC additionally stated that between May of 2015 and November of 2017, trades were placed by the stockbroker on an unauthorized basis. In fact, a customer’s account had been established by Yellen unbeknownst to the customer and without the customer’s authorization. FINRA revealed that a $30,000.00 transfer was effected by Yellen six months following the establishment of the account, and trades were executed with those funds.

The AWC also confirmed that Yellen persisted in effecting unauthorized trades after becoming employed by Ameriprise Financial Services on March 7, 2016. In fact, customers executed new account documentation concerning the trading of options. Yellen subsequently executed options trades which carried risks that exceeded the level of risk that those customers authorized within the account documents. FINRA stated that Yellen’s transactions, none of which were authorized by customers, exposed them to risks of loss. FINRA found Yellen’s conduct violative of FINRA Rules 2010.

The AWC also indicated that in 2016, a total of 319 options order tickets had been marked as unsolicited despite those trades being solicited by Yellen in fifteen of his customers’ accounts. Yellen mismarked the order tickets to circumvent the firm’s policies which mandated, inter alia, the stockbroker’s training on options transactions beforehand. Yellen’s conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511.

Yellen’s registration with Morgan Stanley was terminated on February 9, 2016. He was employed by Ameriprise Financial Services between March 7, 2016 and January 12, 2018, at which point he was discharged founded on allegations that he had engaged in options trading and outside business activities contrary to the securities broker dealer’s policies.

FINRA Public Disclosure additionally reveals that Yellen is the subject of a customer initiated investment related written complaint which was settled to resolve accusations that when Yellen was associated with Morgan Stanley, he failed to follow instructions from a customer concerning an equities transfer.