The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred broker Tam Thanh Tran a.k.a. Tom Tran for failure to cooperate with a FINRA investigation into allegations that Tran mischaracterized $18,000 worth of fund transfers, providing misleading information to an elderly client and to Tran's firm, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
The bar was issued in a default decision, as Tran did not appear nor cooperate during the latter stages of FINRA's investigation.
According to FINRA, in 2009, Tran transferred $18,000 out of an 84-year-old customer's brokerage account and into Tran's personal account. The Authority believes Tran falsely classified some of these transfers as personal gifts for a special occasion in order to make the $18,000 in transfers acceptable and in compliance with firm policies and restrictions regarding gifts, generally prohibited in excess of $250.
Specifically, FINRA references a November 10, 2009 letter, in which Tran allegedly wrote as a reason for transfer: "as a personal gift of $5,000 more as a continuation of the two gifts you have given me…in addition to my engagement present and my future wedding gifts, some of the money is for care of your dog, and to help out certain people when you are gone."
The two gifts mentioned in the November letter referenced two previous transfers in a series of four transfers.
In early 2010, Ameriprise terminated Tran's employment for violating company policy.
In its decision, the OHO noted that Tran's misleading correspondence caused Ameriprise to maintain inaccurate books and records and acknowledges the FINRA Department of Enforcement's initial request for a 90-day suspension and $10,000 fine.
Because Tran did not respond to FINRA's request for documents and information, the OHO determined sanctions against Tran shall be upgraded to a bar, describing the punishment as "standard where a respondent" fails to comply with such a request.
FINRA requires its member firms and their brokers to maintain accurate books and records for the purpose of safeguarding the investing community. Part of this requirement includes accurately describing transactions, such as transfers.
If you suspect a broker or firm has engaged in misconduct such as falsely classifying transfers of monies, and such activity 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.