A former Bank of America research analyst “converted and misused” about $21,000 of the firm’s funds by using his corporate credit card to pay for his personal expenses at an “adult entertainment establishment,” the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Department of Enforcement alleges in a complaint filed Friday.
The charges were made at an unspecified “adult venue” on May 30, 2019, just 20 days after Paramveer Singh joined BofA Securities as a general securities representative and research analyst, the industry self-regulating organization said in the complaint, seeking a disciplinary hearing before a FINRA Office of Hearing Officers panel.
“Singh intentionally charged personal expenses” to the corporate credit card “knowing that his firm had the financial responsibility to pay for these charges,” FINRA alleged. His use of the card was not authorized or consistent with firm policy, FINRA claimed, adding BofA paid the credit card company for the charges and Singh never returned the funds to the firm.
Merrill Lynch declined to comment on Monday. But, in October 2019, the firm filed a Form U5 termination notice, stating Singh was discharged due to “[c]onduct involving the use of a corporate credit card inconsistent with firm policy.”
By converting and misusing the funds, Singh, who worked for the firm’s research group, violated FINRA Rule 2010 and then also violated that same rule and 8210 by “providing false information to FINRA staff in writing in response to FINRA Rule 8210 requests, and during his on-the-record testimony,” FINRA alleged.
Singh “falsely told FINRA staff, both in writing and orally, that he did not make or authorize” the charges, the regulator said.
The former analyst also “falsely denied, both in writing and orally, making a telephone call to the corporate credit card call center on May 30, 2019, during which on a recorded line, Singh identified himself by name, confirmed his email address and the card’s credit limit, and inquired why additional charges on his BofA corporate credit card were declined” at the same venue, FINRA claimed.
Potential sanctions by the FINRA panel against Singh could include a fine, a suspension and/or being stripped of his FINRA registration by being barred from the industry.
However, after 10 years in the industry, Singh is no longer registered as a broker, according to his report on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.
In December 2019, after leaving Merrill Lynch, Singh became associated with another FINRA member firm but, on July 20, that firm filed a Form U5 disclosing he voluntarily terminated his association, according to FINRA, which didn’t name that company in its complaint. Singh’s BrokerCheck report says he was with Oppenheimer & Co. from January until July this year after leaving BofA.
(Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch about a decade ago during the financial crisis. Last year, the bank dropped the name Merrill Lynch from its investment banking, global and capital markets operations and renamed the unit BofA Securities.)