FINRA filed a regulatory complaint against former MetLife Securities Inc. brokers Christopher Birli and Patrick Chapin, alleging the two schemed for seven years to artificially inflate commissions by making unsuitable recommendations to customers that would result in greater commissions, fees and profits for the pair.
The complaint alleges that Birli and Chapin selected a group of employee investors from the State University of New York who participated in the University's retirement plan.
According to FINRA, Birli and Chapin executed their scheme between 2004 and 2007, unbeknownst to employer MetLife, by allegedly recommending that 45 of these customers switch out MetLife variable annuities (VAs) held in retirement accounts in favor of new variable annuities held in individual retirement accounts (IRAs) outside the University plan.
Allegedly planning their scheme in a way that would circumvent an existing MetLife policy that generally prohibits exchanging the two types of variable annuities, Birli and Chapin purportedly advised clients to complete the exchange in phases.
First, FINRA explains, the duo told clients to cash in their retirement plan VAs and buy another security within the plan to hold for 90 days.
Second, Birli and Chapin allegedly instructed clients to then sell that intermediate security to buy a new variable annuity through an IRA, effectively skirting MetLife's policy and detection programs while generating hundreds of thousands of dollars of commissions in the process.
The complaint states that by advising clients to first sell retirement plan VAs, buy another security and then sell that security to purchase IRA VAs, Birli and Chapin exposed investors to unnecessary risks and damages, including fees incurred by some customers for cashing in their initial annuities.
In determining that MetLife was not party to Birli and Chapin's scheme, investigators reasoned that Birli and Chapin concealed the true nature of their illicit activities from MetLife by submitting "false and misleading" paperwork to MetLife. To further avoid detection, the pair also allegedly communicated with customers using personal e-mails instead of through MetLife addresses pursuant to firm and industry policy.
If you have invested with former MetLife Securities brokers Christopher Birli, Patrick Chapin or with any firm or brokers who have advised or recommended financial transactions that were not in your best interest and generated unnecessary and damaging fees and commissions that were harmful to your financial holdings and investments, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for investigation and consultation.