The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority' Office of Hearing Officers order broker Andrew Paul Arno of West Melbourne, Florida barred from the securities industry for misuse of customer funds by redirecting individual retirement account (IRA) contributions to a bank account which Arno personally controlled.
In itshearing, the FINRA Office of Hearing Officers ("OHO") discovered that Arno had been registered with H.D. Vest Investment Services, Inc. from 1995 through 2010, when H.D. Vest terminated his employment for misusing customer funds.
The OHO found that starting in 2008, Arno redirected IRA contributions from multiple customers to a personal bank account, instructing the customers to make all future checks payable to "Arno Financial Services," instead of to "H.D. Vest," the brokerage firm.
After not receiving IRA account statements, one affected customer made a direct inquiry with Delaware Investments, who confirmed they had no record of any IRA contributions during a period in which checks had been made payable to "Arno Financial Services" instead of to the firm.
Though the OHO found that Arno did eventually reimburse affected customers for the aggregate value the customers claimed Arno had stolen, the OHO issued a default decision to bar Arno from the industry after Arno failed to respond to multiple FINRA requests for information and testimony, which in conjunction with the FINRA Sanction Guidelines for "conversion or improper use of funds or securities," merits a punishment no less severe than banishment.
If a broker has instructed you to redirect payments or contributions from a FINRA-member firm to an outside business or other unusual location, and this action has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.