Category Archives: Uncategorized

Notice to Merrill Lynch Customers Who Invested in Strategic Return Notes: Investigation Launched In Wake of SEC Probe

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New York, NY, June 22, 2016 (BUSINESS WIRE) – The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes, P.A. (“K&T”), www.nasd-law.com, announced today that it has launched an investigation into Merrill Lynch (NYSE: BAC) sales of strategic return notes in wake of the SEC’s probe

K&T’s investigation has commenced as a result of the SEC’s preparation of a civil enforcement case against Merrill Lynch, stemming from structured note investments purchased by clients that declined up to 95% in value.  Two former Merrill Lynch financial advisers filed a whistleblower complaint in connection with the investments, one of which stated that the structured notes were marketed to the public in a way that was “borderline crooked.”  According to securities attorney Lawrence L. Klayman, “Investors may not have understood the risks associated with these structured notes and Merrill Lynch is responsible for disclosing these risks to its customers before making any recommendations to purchase them.”

Merrill Lynch underwrites, manages and markets billions of dollars in structured notes to its customers, including the strategic return notes that are the subject of the SEC’s probe.  SEC official Amy Starr commented on structured note investments during a speech last year, “how many brokers and advisers who sell these products to retail investors actually understand what they are selling.”

Supreme Court Rejects Puerto Rico Debt Relief

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Puerto Rico was dealt another setback by The Supreme Court on Monday after the highest court denied the Commonwealth’s effort to restructure more than $20 billion of its massive $72 billion debt.  Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the 5-2 ruling which now places the fate of Puerto Rico’s economic troubles in the hands of Congress, which is attempting to remedy the island’s precarious fiscal situation.  The Obama administration supported a House measure that was passed last week which would give Puerto Rico restructuring authority, which is currently pending in the Senate.  The Supreme Court decision was the second setback received by the Commonwealth in the past weeks, as the court ruled that Puerto Rico was not sovereign with respect to the double jeopardy clause.  The effect of the decision, in essence, eliminated Puerto Rico’s ability to try citizens who have already been tried in federal court.

The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes¸ P.A. Commences an Investigation into Oppenheimer’s Sales Practices Regarding Inverse and Inverse-Leveraged ETFs in Light of the $2.25 Million Fine Levied Against Oppenheimer by FINRA.

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New York (Globe Newswire) – June 8, 2016 – The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes, P.A. (“K&T”), www.nasd-law.com, announced today that it has commenced a comprehensive investigation into Oppenheimer’s (NYSE:OPY) sales practices regarding inverse and inverse-leveraged ETFs that were unsuitable for clients in light of the $3 million fine levied against Oppenheimer by FINRA.

 

According to securities attorney Lawrence Klayman, “the scope of our investigation is related to leveraged, inverse and inverse-leveraged ETFs which Oppenheimer sold to clients despite investment objectives and risk tolerances that should have prohibited such investments from being made.  Additionally, Mr. Klayman explains, “Oppenheimer lacked the requisite supervision to safeguard unsophisticated, risk averse investors from buying these risky ETFs.”

 

K&T is investigating Oppenheimer’s conduct with respect to unsuitable recommendations, misrepresentations and omissions, and failure to supervise.  The investigation is focused on the adequacy of Oppenheimer’s supervisory system for the non-traditional ETFs and the manner in which Oppenheimer’s representatives solicited investors to purchase these unsuitable investments.

 

The sole purpose of this release is to investigate the sales practices of Oppenheimer in connection with the sale of non-traditional ETFs to their customers. Current and former customers of Oppenheimer who purchased non-traditional ETFs that have information relating to the manner in which the firm represented these products, are encouraged to contact Lawrence Klayman, Esq.  or Raymond Gentile, Esq. of Klayman & Toskes at (888) 997-9956, or visit our website at www.nasd-law.com.

INVESTOR ALERT: The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes, P.A. Continues its Investigation and Files Claim on Behalf of UPS Employee for Losses Sustained from Unsuitable Covered Call Writing Strategy for a Concentrated Stock Position

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New York, June 8, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes, P.A. (“K&T”), www.nasd-law.com, announced today that it filed a claim against Merrill Lynch on behalf of a UPS (NYSE:UPS) employee for losses sustained from an unsuitable covered call writing strategy for a concentrated UPS stock position.  The suit was filed with FINRA’s Arbitration Department, and seeks damages of $1,000,000.

According to the Claim, the Claimant worked over 33 years with UPS and accumulated shares of the company through UPS’ Employee Stock Purchase Plan and Managers Incentive Program.  Merrill Lynch and its financial advisor facilitated the unsuitable investment strategy of selling covered call options on the UPS stock to produce income, despite Claimant’s investment objective and desire to hold onto his UPS stock.  Merrill Lynch sold call options at strike prices that were far too low given market conditions and failed to buy back the options to ensure the stock was not called away.  The consequence of Merrill Lynch not buying back the call options resulted in Claimant losing over 33,000 shares of his UPS stock, which took his entire career to accumulate.

We are currently investigating whether the covered call strategies deployed by Merrill Lynch and other investment firms were suitable for investors with concentrated stock positions which were acquired through Managers Incentive Programs or Employee Stock Purchase Programs.  Current and former UPS employees who held accounts with Merrill Lynch, or other full-service brokerage firms, and have information relating to the manner in which the firm handled their concentrated, leveraged portfolios, are encouraged to contact Steven D. Toskes, Esq. or Raymond Gentile, Esq. of Klayman & Toskes, P.A., at 888-997-9956, or visit our firm’s website at www.nasd-law.com.

The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes, P.A. Comments on Lawsuits filed in response to the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule Amendment

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New York, June 6, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes, P.A. (“K&T”), www.nasd-law.com, comments on recent lawsuits filed in response to The Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) recently finalized amendment to the fiduciary rule under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that expands the scope of those who become fiduciaries.  Despite the increased transparency the amendment will provide to investors, nine plaintiff’s including the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are seeking to have the rule vacated.  A second lawsuit has also been filed by the National Association for Fixed Annuities (“NAFA”) in a similar effort to have the courts halt these DOL regulations.

 

According to Lawrence L. Klayman of Klayman & Toskes, P.A., “The DOL has effectuated a huge victory for middle class Americans who have been subjected to an erosion in retirement security for the past decade.  In the past 22 years I have represented investors who have suffered substantial losses in their retirement accounts because investment companies put their own interests ahead of their clients’.”  Regarding the recent lawsuits filed by both the nine plaintiff’s and NAFA, Mr. Klayman commented that the “lawsuits are nothing more than an attempt by Wall Street to undermine basic investor protection efforts that were long overdue.”

 

Both complaints are essentially asking the courts to strike down the DOL’s regulation insofar as it will require most brokers and investment advisors to act as fiduciaries.  With respect to these complaints, Mr. Klayman responded that “the modern brokerage industry heavily advertises the fact that they are advisors who offer comprehensive services for all types of investors.  However, each and every time that we bring claims on behalf of investors in the securities arbitration forum, which is the only remedy available, the brokerage firms that we prosecute always defend and take the position that they are just order takers.  The DOL’s amendment to the fiduciary rule reflects the true nature of the business relationship that exists today between the brokerage industry and investors.  These lawsuits are simply an effort to perpetuate customer harm.”

 

About Klayman & Toskes, P.A.

K&T is a leading national securities law firm which practices exclusively in the field of securities arbitration and litigation, on behalf of retail and institutional investors throughout the world in large and complex securities matters. The firm represents high net-worth, ultra-high-net-worth, and institutional investors, such as non-profit organizations, unions, public and multi-employer pension funds. K&T has office locations in California, Florida, New York and Puerto Rico.

Heidi Marinka Wivolin – NEXT Financial Group

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Our Law Firm is investigating NEXT Financial Group, Inc. in connection with the supervision of former NEXT Financial Registered Representative Heidi Marika Wivolin (CRD No. 2728779). Wivolin had been registered with NEXT from February 2009 through February 2014.  While registered with NEXT, Wivolin was based out of the firm’s Lake Worth, Florida office. Before working for NEXT Financial, Wivolin was registered with 1st Discount Brokerage, Inc., out of the firm’s Boynton Beach, Florida office, from October 2005 to December 2008.

In February of 2014, Wivolin was discharged from NEXT. According to Wivolin’s BrokerCheck, “NEXT was investigating possible fraud on the part of an individial sharing office space with Ms. Wivolin. During the investigation, Ms. Wivolin stopped cooperation with NEXT’s internal investigation.”

Further, in mid 2014, FINRA permanently barred Wivolin from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity. According to Wivolin’s BrokerCheck, FINRA stated, “Pursuant to FINRA Rule 9552(h) and in accordance with FINRA’s intent to suspend and notice of suspension letters dated March 21, 2014 and April 14, 2014, respectively, on June 24, 2014, Wivolin was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity. [Wivolin] failed to request termination of her suspension within three months of the date of the notice of intent to suspend; therefore she is automatically barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.”

If you were a customer of Wivolin, please contact our law firm, toll free, at 888-997-9956.

Michael John Smeriglio, III – MetLife Securities

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Our law firm is investigating MetLife Securities (“MetLife”) in connection with the supervision of Michael John Smeriglio, III (“Smeriglio”), CRD No. 2499903. On November 3, 2014, Smeriglio and FINRA entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”), in connection with failing to provide documents and information requested by FINRA staff in August of 2014, in violation of FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010.

According to the AWC, “On August 1, 2014, during the course of an investigation into allegations that Smeriglio converted customer funds from the customer’s Estate and Trust, FINRA’s Office of Fraud Detection and Market Intelligence sent a letter to Smeriglio, pursuant to FINRA Rule 8210, requesting documents and information. The response was originally due by August 11, 2014, but was extended by agreement with Smeriglio’s counsel to August 15, 2014. Smeriglio did not respond to the Rule 8210 Request. On August 19, 2014, FINRA staff sent Smeriglio a second request for the documents and information requested in the August 1,2014 letter, pursuant to FINRA Rule 8216. On or about August 29, 2014, counsel for Smeriglio notified FINRA that Smeriglio would not be providing the documents and information requested in the letter dated August 1, 2014.” As of the filing of the AWC, Smeriglio had not provided FINRA with any documents or information. According to Smeriglio’s FINRA BrokerCheck, he resigned from MetLife “after admitting to taking loans from a customer account.”

If you invested with  Michael John Smeriglio, III, please contact our law firm, toll free, at 888-997-9956.

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