Florida Broker Suspended for Two Years for Material Misrepresentations
FINRA recently announced the suspension of registered securities representative Landon L. Williams (CRD#: 1751467). Most recently, this broker worked at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, out of an office located in Jacksonville, Florida. According to FINRA investigators, Mr. Williams:
- Made material misrepresentations to his clients;
- Omitted material facts in conversations with investors; and
- Provided false information to his brokerage firm.
As a result of the misconduct, several of his clients ended up putting their money in unsuitable investments. For his actions, Mr. Williams has been suspended from the securities industry for two years and he has been fined $10,000.
Understanding the Allegations of Misconduct Against Landon L. Williams
Beginning in the Summer of 2013, Landon L. Williams began working with Merrill Edge, a brokerage firm program that was designed to serve customers who had less than $250,000 in total investments. Notably, investors within this program are served by a ‘team’ of securities representatives, instead of by a single financial advisor. Of course, this makes communication within the firm especially important. In fact, the brokerage firm had a policy in place that was meant to ensure that all individual representatives reported any transaction in excess of $50,000.
Five Merrill Edge Customers Were Misled
The FINRA investigation into Mr. Williams centered on his communications with five different Merrill Edge customers. Mr. Williams recommended that these investors switch their mutual fund holdings into a different class of shares of their current fund. The investors were informed that by doing so, they could increase their annual return by approximately two percent, without taking on any additional risk. In reality, Mr. Williams was selling these customers on a different investment fund entirely. Further, these investors were informed that, after paying the front-end sales charges it would take them between two to three years to break even on their investment, after factoring in the higher rate of return. According to FINRA, Mr. Williams had no basis to make this representation.
Inaccurate Information Was Submitted to the Brokerage Firm
Mr. Williams was required to submit information regarding these sales to the rest of his team and to his member firm. When he did so, he included information that was far different than what he told the firm’s customers. According to FINRA, false statements were made to the brokerage firm, which masked the fact that he was recommending unsuitable investments to these clients. In reality, their ‘switching’ of mutual fund holdings had no legitimate basis. The transactions simply allowed Mr. Williams to generate additional commissions and fees.
Contact Our South Florida Securities Fraud Lawyers Today
At Carlson & Associates, P.A., our dedicated Miami securities fraud lawyers have helped many investors recover financial compensation for their losses. We handle all types of investment fraud claims, from unsuitable investments cases to broker misrepresentations claims. To set up a fully private review of your legal case, please reach out to us at our Miami office today.