New NFLPA Registered Financial Advisor Is The Subject of a FINRA Disciplinary Proceeding
On April 1, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) Department of Enforcement filed a Complaint against James Goetz, a NFLPA Registered Financial Advisor. The Complaint alleged that while employed by Merrill Lynch, Goetz invested in at least five private companies without making required disclosures or receiving authorization from Merrill Lynch. FINRA also alleges that Goetz verbally sought approval to invest in Iron Smoke, a whiskey distillery, was instructed by Merill Lynch not to do so, and made the investment anyway.
Goetz was terminated by Merrill Lynch in September of 2014 for “conduct related to not disclosing private securities transactions, including transactions alongside clients, and not being forthcoming during an internal review.” Goetz and his partner, Stephen Brown, who was also named in the Complaint, managed $2.5 billion at Merrill Lynch before being terminated. Goetz and Brown are currently employed by Stifel, Nicolaus & Company.
The FINRA Complaint alleges that in late 2010 or early 2011, Goetz attempted to invest in Lorax, a private investment pool managed by his partner, by writing a check to Lorax from his own account at Merrill Lynch. According to the Complaint, Merrill Lynch’s compliance department flagged the check and Goetz falsely represented to Merrill Lynch management what the money was intended for. The Complaint further alleges that Goetz later changed his story and admitted he was investing in Brown’s investment pool.
As of this week, James Goetz is listed on the NFLPA website as being registered with the NFLPA Financial Advisor Program. Records provided to our firm show that Goetz was not registered in the NFLPA program in 2016. Goetz likely would have applied with the NFLPA during the registration window between June 1 and June 30 of 2016, which came after FINRA filed its Complaint. It appears that Goetz became registered with the NFLPA as a financial advisor while the FINRA Disciplinary Proceeding was pending.