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CFP Board Suspends Former UBS Broker Charged With Defrauding Clients

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What You Need to Know

  • The ex-UBS broker and advisor was charged with first-degree conspiracy for allegedly defrauding clients out of over $500,000.
  • He's one of five defendants in the case, along with his wife.
  • A UBS client's lawyer also accused him of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, requesting $2 million in damages.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards imposed an interim suspension of CFP certification against a former UBS broker who was charged with first-degree conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to defraud two investors and two mortgage lenders of more than $500,000.

Joseph M. Whitney of Mahwah, New Jersey, was a rep and advisor with UBS from January 2009 until May 2020, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website. After leaving UBS, he became a rep for Wedbush Securities in June 2020 and left that firm in February, according to BrokerCheck. He is no longer registered as a broker or advisor. However, his LinkedIn account says he still works for Wedbush.

UBS, Wedbush and Whitney did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

On March 2, CFP Board filed a motion for an interim suspension order requesting the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) issue an interim suspension order against Whitney, CFP Board said Wednesday.

CFP Board pointed out that Whitney was named as a defendant in a criminal matter brought by the Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice (Case Number 0201S201000001), in which he was charged with first degree felony conspiracy.

The DEC determined Whitney’s conduct “poses a significant threat to the public and significantly impinges upon the reputation of the profession or the CFP certificant marks and granted” the motion, CFP Board said. The suspension became effective Tuesday.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Feb. 5 that Whitney, 42, was one of five people charged with first-degree conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to defraud two investors and two mortgage lenders of more than $500,000 via fraudulent real estate investments and then laundering the proceeds through bank accounts controlled by three of the defendants.

The other defendants were: Melanie Whitney, 42, Joseph’s wife; George Bussanich Sr., 62, of Park Ridge, N.J., her father; George Bussanich Jr., 41, of Saddle River, N.J., her brother; and Bruce Evanter, 73, of Mahwah.

In a parallel action, on Jan. 30, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities denied Joseph Whitney’s applications for registration with the Bureau as an agent and investment advisor representative of a broker-dealer, citing conduct related to the criminal charges. The denial prevented him from working in the securities industry in New Jersey.

Previously, in 2020, a UBS client’s lawyer accused Whitney of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty in asking the client to invest in a project with Whitney’s wife without disclosing the wife and her family “were not strangers to fraud schemes,” according to a disclosure on his BrokerCheck report. The client requested damages of $2 million in the case, which is still pending, according to BrokerCheck.

The attorney’s assertion was “unrelated in any way to his client’s profitable and well-managed accounts at UBS,” Whitney said in a comment on the disclosure. It was also “contrary to the fact that it was his client who asked my wife, a New Jersey licensed real estate broker, to form, invest in, and develop a residential real estate company many years after meeting and knowing her,” he stated.

Melanie Whitney’s “family matters which were fully disclosed to my employer, had absolutely nothing to do with the servicing of any of my client accounts, had nothing to do with me and no client, aside from this one’s attorney has ever complained about me in any fashion,” he added.

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