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Regulation and Compliance > State Regulation

MassMutual BD Fined $250K, Ex-Broker Barred for Fraud

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What You Need to Know

  • The barred broker had allegedly pressured clients into buying unsuitable, high-commission insurance products.
  • He was terminated by MML in October 2019, two years after rejoining the firm, over allegations concerning inappropriate insurance sales practices.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin, Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, fined MassMutual broker-dealer subsidiary MML Investment Services $250,000, claiming the firm failed to supervise a broker who allegedly defrauded clients by pressuring them into buying unsuitable, high-commission insurance products.

As part of a consent order filed by Galvin’s Securities Division on Tuesday, MML, without admitting to or denying the findings, agreed to pay the fine and disgorge any profits related to the unlawful actions of the broker and to conduct an internal review of its supervisory procedures.

The Securities Division also filed a separate complaint against the broker, Charles J. Evan, on Tuesday, seeking to ban him permanently from operating in Massachusetts.

Evan was terminated by MML in October 2019, two years after rejoining the firm, “in connection with allegations concerning inappropriate traditional insurance sales practices,” according to a disclosure on his report at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website. He was previously with MML for five years.

He “aggressively pushed clients into variable annuities, while falsely claiming not to be receiving commissions for the sale of those products,” all in an effort to “line his own pockets,” Galvin said in a news release on Wednesday.

Evan was barred from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity after he refused to provide documents and information requested by FINRA while it was investigating his termination from MML.

Without admitting to or denying the industry self-regulating group’s findings, Evan signed a FINRA letter of acceptance, waiver and consent on Dec. 31, 2019, in which he consented to the sanction. FINRA signed the letter on Jan. 22, 2020.

Commenting on the fine, a MassMutual spokesperson said Wednesday: “We take compliance with securities laws very seriously and cooperated fully with the inquiry. We are pleased to have resolved this matter.”

Evan was with seven firms over his 41 years in the financial services sector. In that time, he racked up 14 disclosures, according to his BrokerCheck report.

His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Evan perpetrated a deceptively simple scheme for almost 10 years by subjecting his clients to high-pressure boiler room sales tactics and outright fraudulent misstatements, mis-representations, and omissions while advising those clients to purchase high commission products intended solely to generate large profits for himself,” according to the Securities Division complaint against the former broker.

As part of his scheme to boost commissions for himself, Evan convinced clients to liquidate assets from their retirement accounts to fund additional, unnecessary life insurance policy purchases as investment vehicles, according to the complaint. In some cases, clients fell behind on payments and were pressured by Evan to contribute more funds to keep their policies in place.

“Evan repeatedly urged clients to act quickly on purchases by misrepresenting that the products he offered were the result of special deals that were only available for a short time, often telling clients that they had as little as 24 hours to decide whether to invest,” according to the complaint.

The Securities Division is also seeking an order to require Evan to pay restitution to compensate affected investors for their losses and to pay an administrative fine to the Commonwealth, according to Galvin.

(Photo: Shutterstock)