Broker Barred by FINRA for Excessive Trading in Client IRA Accounts

March 28, 2017

Released March 2017

Richard Gomez (CRD #4727721, Jackson Heights, New York) submitted an AWC in which he was suspended from association with any FINRA member in any capacity for one year.  In light of Gomez’s financial status, no monetary sanction has been imposed. Without admitting or denying the findings, Gomez consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he engaged in several types of misconduct in the Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) of three of his member firm’s customers. The findings stated that without obtaining prior written authorization from two of these customers—who are husband and wife and senior investors—and without the firm’s acceptance of the customers’ IRAs as discretionary accounts, Gomez effected discretionary trades in these customers’ IRAs. Gomez failed to discuss the trades with the customers on the dates of the transactions. The findings also stated that Gomez’s trading in these accounts was excessive. The turnover and cost-to-equity ratios far exceeded the thresholds indicating excessive trading. Further, the strategy was inconsistent with the investment objective of capital preservation and a moderate to moderately aggressive risk tolerance that the customers expected for their respective IRAs. Nevertheless, Gomez’s trading in these IRAs resulted in losses of approximately $213,000 for the customers and generated approximately $483,400 in commissions.

The findings also included that Gomez executed transactions in a third customer’s IRA, who is also a senior investor, that were part of a qualitatively unsuitable trading strategy. The transactions that Gomez effected in this customer’s IRA resulted in market losses, and commissions and fees totaling nearly $30,000. The customer learned that Gomez was not implementing the trading strategy that they had agreed upon when he began to receive trade confirmations in the mail. The customer immediately complained to Gomez and the firm, and instructed Gomez to stop effecting any transactions in his IRA. Gomez’s trading in this customer’s IRA was unsuitable for the customer because the investment strategy in the IRA was inconsistent with the customer’s expectations and his directions to Gomez regarding the strategy that Gomez promised to implement in the account. The investment strategy was also inconsistent with the customer’s moderately aggressive risk tolerance and growth investment objectives, which were reflected in the customer’s new account documents for the firm. Instead, the strategy concentrated the customer’s assets in a single security at a time, so a negative performance in the security would have drastic effects on the IRA value. Gomez also effected transactions in the customer’s IRA without his authorization, knowledge or consent.

FINRA found that as a result of the customer’s complaint regarding his trading activity in his IRA, Gomez executed an agreement in which he agreed to repay to the customer, in an installment plan, the commissions of $9,186 generated from Gomez’s trading in his IRA. Gomez proposed the dates and amounts for repayment that were incorporated in the agreement. However, Gomez never intended to honor the terms of the agreement. Without providing any explanation, Gomez failed to make the first required payment. Gomez also failed to make subsequent payments, despite repeated promises to the customer and the firm’s management that he would do so. On at least two occasions, the firm withheld Gomez’s commission payments in order to make partial payments to the customer. By the agreement’s deadline for Gomez to fulfill his obligations pursuant to the agreement, the customer had received approximately a third of the amount due to him under the agreement, largely through the firm’s intervention. By that point, Gomez had resigned from the firm, had ceased to make any payments under the agreement, and had stopped responding in any way to the customer’s requests for payment. Gomez did not have any reasonable justification or excuse for his failure to comply with the agreement. The suspension is in effect from February 6, 2017, through February 5, 2018. (FINRA Case #2014039358003)

Source: FINRA, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. 2017
Full Disciplinary Reports Available to the public at: www.finra.org