FINRA has reprimanded a broker who allegedly made unsuitable recommendations in unit investment trusts while employed at Huntington National Bank, the regulator said.
Richard Graham was suspended for two months, fined $10,000 and ordered to disgorge more than $3,500 in commissions he received, according to a document FINRA filed last week.
Graham worked for Huntington in Lafayette, Indiana. He is the third rep from Huntington since December to run into trouble for alleged aggressive selling of unit investment trusts to customers.
FINRA rebuked Graham for recommending that a non-native English-speaking couple invest $350,000 —the bulk of their net worth — in two unit investment trusts in November and December 2012. A year later, the muni bond investments had fallen almost 23% in value, according to FINRA.
“Placing 94% of their net worth in an investment that employed leverage, included non-investment grade securities, and could lose a large amount of principal in a short time period was unsuitable,” FINRA asserted.
The couple had a conservative risk profile and were planning to retire within 10 years, FINRA said.
Graham, who now works as a real estate broker in Indianapolis, declined to comment through his attorney, Keith Griffin of Griffin Law Firm in Indiana.
FINRA also scolded Graham for selling an elderly customer three unit investment trusts totaling $259,000, or nearly half of her net worth, according to FINRA’s filing. When the customer sold the investments six months later, they had dropped more than $29,000, or 11.4%, in value, FINRA said. The elderly woman bought the unit investment trusts in April and May 2013.
“Recommending that a 98-year-old customer with a moderately conservative risk tolerance invest 42% of her net worth in a single product that employed leverage and could sustain substantial losses in a short time period was not suitable,” FINRA charged.
In his settlement with FINRA, Graham neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to an entry of FINRA’s findings. He worked for Huntington from June 2005 to July 2013, when he joined J.P. Morgan Chase, according to his BrokerCheck report. He left J.P. Morgan last month.
Glen Zehr, a spokesman for Huntington, had no comment, nor did Michael Fusco, a spokesman for Chase Wealth Management.
Graham’s suspension follows two other FINRA disciplinary actions against former Huntington reps for alleged misconduct related to unit investment trusts. In May, David Michael Miller was barred from the industry and ordered to pay more than $800,000 in restitution and disgorgement for allegedly making unsuitable recommendations of the products. The other rep, Jeffrey Rittberger, was suspended for 45 days and fined $10,000 last December for purportedly making unsuitable recommendations in municipal unit investment trusts.
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