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MassMutual Under Investigation Over 'Roaring Kitty'

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A screengrab of one of Roaring Kitty’s YouTube videos on investment. (Image via YouTube) A screengrab of one of Roaring Kitty’s YouTube videos on investment. (Image via YouTube)

Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, William Galvin, is looking into the actions of Keith Patrick Gill, the former MassMutual broker who played a key role in the trading frenzy surrounding video game retailer GameStop and other stock last week.

Gill is the person behind the Roaring Kitty YouTube streams that, combined with a string of posts by Reddit user DeepF***ingValue, drove a sudden increase in GameStop stock trading, slamming hedge funds that had bet against the struggling retailer.

“I can confirm our Securities Division sent an inquiry to MassMutual last Friday asking about Mr. Gill’s status,” a spokesperson for Galvin told ThinkAdvisor on Thursday.

MassMutual contacted Galvin’s office on Monday to inform it that Gill had given his notice to leave the firm on Jan. 21 and his last day at the firm was Jan. 28.

“They also informed us that they had previously denied Mr. Gill’s request to do outside work, when he asked for permission to manage the portfolio of a family friend,” according to the spokesperson.

Galvin’s Securities Division also said it is “looking into whether or not MassMutual should have been aware of Mr. Gill’s activities.”

MassMutual’s Issues

MassMutual could potentially face failure to supervise charges or sanctions from regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Asked to comment on what Galvin’s spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor, a MassMutual spokeswoman on Thursday said only: “We continue to review the matter and have no further comment at this time.”

This remark is similar to what the MassMutual spokeswoman said on Wednesday when, asked if MassMutual was concerned about potential FINRA charges, she responded: “We are reviewing this matter and have no further comment at this time.”

Last week, the MassMutual spokeswoman had only said Gill was “no longer employed by MassMutual,” declining to say exactly when he left the firm.

As of Thursday, Gill was still registered as a broker but no longer an RIA, according to FINRA’s BrokerCheck website, which also still indicated he was affiliated with MassMutual.

In his social media posts and videos, Gill had indicated multiple times that he was bullish on GameStop stock and thus may have helped persuade other investors to buy shares in the retailer’s stock.

He started sharing his bets with Reddit’s WallStreetBets group in September 2019, posting a portfolio screenshot showing he had invested $53,000 in the company and had already made a $46,000 profit, Reuters reported but said it was unable to confirm.

It remained unclear Thursday whether Gill himself violated any securities laws. “As long as what [Gill] is saying is truthful and he’s not breaching his fiduciary duty to his clients (if he has some), I can’t think of a violation,” Nicolas Morgan, a partner at the global legal defense firm Paul Hastings, told ThinkAdvisor last week.

“If he is making false statements or putting his interests ahead of clients, that’s a different situation.”

Melanie Waddell contributed to this report.

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