A former Morgan Stanley (MS) advisor in Columbus, Ohio, has been awarded $500,000 in a dispute with his former firm. The award was made by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel on Thursday and stems from a disagreement between the rep, John Offenburger, and the wirehouse over a promissory note signed as part of a recruiting deal.
Morgan Stanley claimed Offenburger left the firm in October 2012 and that the rep was required to pay the note’s balance of about $519,000. The wirehouse also asked FINRA to award it damages, interest, costs and attorneys’ fees.
Offenburger, for his part, accused Morgan Stanley of breach of contract, fraudulent or negligent presentations, defamation and tortious interference with business relations, in a counterclaim filed in April 2013. He asked for nearly $1.4 million in damages.
According to FINRA’s statement on the award, the advisor said he was “forced to resign and alleged that [Morgan Stanley's] agents made false and defamatory statements about [him] to his clients,” which the wirehouse denied.
In its award letter, FINRA said the promissory note “was unenforceable and no fraud was proven.” It awarded the rep $500,000 for his claim of lost income; these funds were “satisfied” by the promissory note.
The panel asked Morgan Stanley to pay $5,400 and Offenburger to cover $6,600 for the hearing fees.
Offenburger has been in the securities business for 17 years. Before Morgan Stanley, he worked for Stifel (SF) and Merrill Lynch (BAC). Since leaving Morgan Stanley in October 2012, he has been affiliated with Wells Fargo Financial Network (or FiNet), the bank’s independent channel, according to FINRA records.
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