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Ex-HSBC broker accused of swindling blind customer out of $200K expelled from industry

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FINRA on Monday barred a former HSBC broker for allegedly robbing a blind, elderly customer of $200,000 to buy two apartments in the broker's own name.

Jaime Rodriguez, a broker who doubled as a branch relationship banker for HSBC in New York, served as the customer's premier relationship manager, FINRA said in the settlement Rodriguez signed.
Rodriguez allegedly befriended the customer soon after meeting him in December 2010, helping him at first with grocery shopping and other errands. When the customer's apartment lease was terminated two years later, Rodriguez offered to help him locate and buy an apartment in the Bronx for $70,000. He used the customer's money to purchase the dwelling but appointed himself the sole beneficial owner when it should have been in the client's name, according to FINRA.

The customer was not able to see or read the documents due to his disability, the regulator said.

Two months after the customer moved into his new apartment in October 2012, Rodriguez recommended that they open a joint bank account so Rodriguez could assist him with paying his bills, FINRA claimed.

The joint bank account, which was funded exclusively by the customer and reached a balance as high as $153,000, was intended to be used solely for the benefit of customer, an understanding Rodriguez allegedly violated. In December 2013, Rodriguez dipped into the joint bank account to purchase a second apartment in Yonkers, New York, for $130,000 and again named himself the sole beneficial owner when it was supposed to have been purchased in the customer's name, according to FINRA.

Unlike the first apartment, the customer never got to live in the Yonkers residence. Rodriguez began renting it to tenants and collected and retained the rent without the customer's authorization. FINRA did not disclose how much money he collected.

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment. He agreed to the bar without admitting or denying the allegations.

Rodriguez joined HSBC Securities in November 2010 and was voluntarily terminated in July 2014, according to the settlement. He subsequently held positions at Capital One and CUSO Financial Services, BrokerCheck records show. He was terminated from CUSO in April, FINRA said.

Stephen Goewey, a spokesman for HSBC, declined to comment beyond confirming that Rodrigues is no longer an HSBC employee.

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