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FINRA sanctions broker for alleged sideline selling annuities

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A broker who ran a thriving business secretly selling annuities while employed at U.S. Bank was suspended for four months and fined $7,500 for his undisclosed business venture, according to his recent settlement with FINRA.

Charles Cumber allegedly sold $2.63 million in equity-indexed annuities to 20 individuals, 13 of them customers of U.S. Bancorp Investments, the retail brokerage arm of U.S. Bank. He earned $125,000 in commissions from the associated insurance company, along with $27,000 in trailing compensation, FINRA claimed.
The sales occurred between January 2015 and March 2016, according to the regulator.

In addition, Cumber allegedly received $345,000 in payments from the insurance company for sales of indexed annuities and other insurance products during the length of his employment with the firm.

FINRA chided him for not disclosing any of the insurance business, residual commissions or the existence of his enterprise, Cumber & Associates, to his employer, as required by FINRA rules. The regulator also scolded him for falsely attesting that he was not involved in any outside business activities.

Cumber repeatedly acknowledged his understanding that the receipt of residual commissions be disclosed to his firm, FINRA claimed. He also reportedly agreed that he would not sell insurance products for any entity other than U.S. Bancorp Investments without prior notice and approval.

Cumber worked for U.S. Bancorp Investments in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from October 2011 to April 2016, according to BrokerCheck records. He subsequently worked for 10 months for Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Clearing Services. In February 2017, he was discharged from Wells Fargo for failing to disclose outside activities in a timely manner, his BrokerCheck report shows.

In a statement in the report, Cumber noted that he had several companies that were not properly dissolved and was unaware they were still active.

Cumber could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Clinton Marrs of Albuquerque, New Mexico, law firm Marrs Griebel Law, did not respond to an email message.

In this settlement with FINRA, Cumber neither admitted nor denied the allegations but consented to an entry of FINRA's findings.

"The trust and confidence of our clients is important to U.S. Bancorp," said Jeni Jonett, a spokeswoman for U.S. Bank. "We take these matters seriously, conducted a thorough review of the details, and took appropriate action."

Cumber is the second former U.S. Bank broker to be sanctioned by FINRA for undisclosed outside business ventures. Darrell Pope, an advisor with U.S. Bancorp Investments in Louisville, Kentucky, was suspended in September for four months and fined $7,500 for an alleged venture aimed at facilitating the sale of Iraqi dinar currency.

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