SEC officials barred former Merrill Lynch and RBC Capital broker Thomas Joseph Buck, who pleaded guilty to overcharging clients in October and was previously barred by FINRA in 2015. The SEC in October alleged that Buck fraudulently schemed to generate excessive commissions and fees from investors for personal gain and Buck agreed to pay more than $5 million to settle the charges, including over $2.5 million in disgorgement.
Merrill Lynch previously settled 23 complaints of fraud filed against Buck for $4.1 million; since then, Buck's BrokerCheck report has ballooned to 40 disclosures, including a series of new customer disputes alleging unauthorized trading, excessive trading, misrepresentation, and omission of material facts.
The present SEC order barring Buck lists a menu of misconduct ranging from unauthorized use of discretion in commission-based accounts to material misrepresentations, penny stock-related fee misconduct, and improperly representing to customers information concerning their commission-based accounts, and putting funds into the commission-based accounts, even when a fee-based account could have been cheaper for the investor.
For instance, Buck allegedly told customers that their total annual commissions would not exceed certain limits, only to subsequently trade and/or churn the accounts, generating commissions that exceeded the limits he previously communicated to the customers; Buck also purportedly misrepresented to several clients that their commissions and fees had not exceeded the limit amounts when, in fact, they had exceeded those thresholds.
If you have invested with former Merrill Lynch broker Thomas Joseph Buck or with any representative or financial adviser who has exercised discretion in your account without permission, or whose churning and excessive trading activity has generated commissions and fees that have 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.