The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority suspended an ex-Merrill Lynch general securities representative for 21 months and fined him $15,000 for engaging in outside business activities that included ownership of a professional video game team without providing prior written notice to Merrill Lynch, according to the regulator.
Without admitting or denying the findings, Christopher M. Roumayeh submitted a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent to FINRA May 7 in which he agreed to the regulator’s sanctions. FINRA accepted the letter Wednesday.
Merrill Lynch declined to comment Thursday on Roumayeh and his dispute with FINRA.
Roumayeh “realizes he made a mistake and FINRA has every right to hold advisors accountable for their mistakes,” Brandon Taaffe, an attorney at the Sarasota, Florida, office of law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, which represented the ex-Merrill rep in his dispute with FINRA, told ThinkAdvisor on Thursday.
Roumayeh became associated with Merrill in October 2008. In a Form U5 filed July 3, 2019, Merrill “reported Roumayeh’s resignation while under internal review for, among other things, an undisclosed outside business interest,” according to the AWC letter.
During the period of June 2014 through June 2019, the rep engaged in two outside business activities without providing prior written notice to Merrill. Specifically, Roumayeh and a Merrill customer of his bought a “franchise involved in the professional video gaming industry,” FINRA said, without identifying the franchise. As its owner, Roumayeh managed the franchise’s day-to-day operations.
Roumayeh also formed five corporate entities related to the franchise’s operations, serving as an officer and director for them, and “solicited prospective investors” in the franchise, according to FINRA. In addition, he formed and managed a separate limited liability company through which he acquired commercial real estate, FINRA said.