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Ex-Key Bank broker suspended for alleged mishandling of customer annuity

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A former Key Bank broker was suspended from the industry for 18 months and fined $7,500 for allegedly mishandling a customer's variable annuity and inappropriately using two other customers' personal identification information, according to a recent FINRA disciplinary filing.

FINRA claimed that Abed Adam Darwish, a broker with Key Investment Services in Cleveland, Ohio, added his wife as a 50% primary beneficiary to a customer's variable annuity without the customer's knowledge. He allegedly corrected the beneficiary designations 10 days later after the customer demanded that her husband be named as the sole beneficiary.
The customer learned of the new beneficiary from the annuity company, FINRA said.

The episode spurred an anonymous complaint and an internal investigation into Darwish's handling of the customer's variable annuity and change-of-beneficiary form. During the course of that investigation, Darwish purportedly made false statements regarding the reason for the beneficiary change, saying that it was the result of his determining that the customer had not designated any contingent beneficiaries, when in fact she had designated her husband's estate.

Darwish, who joined Key in November 2010, was permitted to resign from the firm in May 2015 while under internal investigation, according to BrokerCheck records. He maintained that the error on the beneficiary form was clerical, his BrokerCheck report shows.

Darwish could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Mark Kowalsky of Michigan law firm Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, did not return an email message seeking comment.

FINRA also accused Darwish of using the personal identification information of two bank customers to establish online access to a brokerage account they held at another firm. He wanted to prepare alternate investment recommendations and convince the customers to transfer their account to Key, FINRA said.

While Darwish had access to the customers' personal banking information, he had not been authorized to establish online access for their third-party brokerage account, FINRA charged.

Darwish agreed to FINRA's sanctions without admitting or denying the allegations against him.

Laura Mimura, a spokeswoman for Key Bank, declined to comment on the matter.

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