The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred yet another ex-broker who had been associated with First Standard Financial — a Red Bank, New Jersey-based broker-dealer whose license was recently canceled by FINRA — from associating with any FINRA member firm in any and all capacities, according to the regulator.
While investigating allegations that Andre Pierre Davis engaged in excessive and unsuitable trading in customer accounts while associated with First Standard, FINRA requested Jan. 13 that he provide information and documents, the regulator said. Davis did not respond to FINRA’s request, and his counsel advised in writing that he would not provide a response, FINRA said.
As a result, Davis violated FINRA Rules 8210 (governing the provision of information and testimony and inspection and copying of books) and 2010 (governing standards of commercial honor and principles of trade), according to FINRA.
Without admitting or denying the findings, Davis signed a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent Feb. 21 in which he agreed to the sanction. FINRA accepted the letter Tuesday.
Davis was registered as a general securities representative with First Standard from March 2015 until May 30, 2019, when he was terminated by the firm, according to FINRA. He went on to join Paulson Investment Co. before being barred by the regulator, according to his profile on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website, where there are a whopping 19 disclosures over the course of his 19-year career.
The final disclosure is related to FINRA barring him. Prior to that, there were 15 customer disputes, including multiple accusations of churning and excessive and unsuitable trading. FINRA’s Department of Enforcement, on Oct. 14, 2019, made a preliminary determination to recommend disciplinary action against him for churning of customer accounts, excessive trading of a customer’s account, exercising discretion without written authorization from the customer or written approval of his firm, and unsuitable recommendations of nontraditional exchange-traded products to clients.
Although First Standard had “held itself out as a legitimate financial services firm,” the firm actually “served as a haven for greedy, dishonest agents who traded clients’ accounts like sharks in a feeding frenzy,” Christopher W. Gerold, chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, said in a statement Nov. 4, around the time the firm withdrew its registration.
The BD’s compliance officer, Michael Leahy, on Jan. 3 signed a FINRA letter of acceptance, waiver and consent in which he agreed to be barred from all future supervisory roles at FINRA firms, as well as a $5,000 fine, to settle the alleged rule violations he was accused of. He neither admitted nor denied the findings.
Another ex-First Standard rep, Philip Joseph Sparacino, was recently barred by FINRA from acting as a broker or associating with a BD firm, according to BrokerCheck. FINRA had previously barred ex-First Standard rep Gabriel Block from acting as a broker or associating with a BD firm, according to BrokerCheck.
On Oct. 31, 2019, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities issued a Summary Revocation Order against First Standard, revoking its registration in that state for, among other things, engaging in what the agency called a “fraudulent course of business that consisted of excessive, unsuitable, and frequently unauthorized short-term trading in customer accounts that generated commissions for First Standard and its agents at its customers’ expense.”
First Standard filed a Uniform Request Withdrawal from Broker-Dealer Registration on or around Nov. 5, 2019. FINRA went on to cancel its license in January, according to the firm’s profile on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.