FINRA barred former Cetera Advisors broker Nina Sue Jessee for failing to cooperate into an investigation into an unauthorized outside business activity, capping off a file of 25 disclosures, a majority of which were filed over the past few years.
In barring Jessee (CRD #148408), FINRA in AWC #2018057366301 wrote of its investigation into customer complaints related to alternative investments and allegations that Jessee failed to disclose an outside business activity. Prior to her association with Cetera Advisors, Jessee was affiliated with Investors Capital Corp (a Cetera Financial Group affiliate) in Abingdon, Virginia.
The slew of settled customer disputes in Jessee's file features allegations ranging from suitability to misrepresentation, poor performance, and over-concentration of client funds in unsuitable investments. Cumulatively, these complaints have been settled for over $1 million, and several remain pending.
Cetera has been in the regulatory hot-seat before about its purported failure to adequately supervise brokers, and this isn't the first time the firm Cetera Advisors or an affiliate has been linked to a broker accused of wrongdoing, including brokers who, like Jessee, started out with affiliate Investors Capital Corp, subsequently joined Cetera Advisors, and were finally disciplined by FINRA.
In 2016, FINRA barred former Investors Capital Corp and Cetera Advisors broker Daniel Benjamin Vasquez of the firms' Irvine, CA branch for failing to cooperate with an investigation after Vasquez (CRD #3141463) racked up a series of customer complaints alleging unsuitable investments, excessive trading, misrepresentation, omission of material information, negligence, and fraud.
One such complaint, settled for $50,000, alleged that Vasquez's unsuitable investment activity spanned two broker-dealers, starting with Investors Capital Corp and ending up at Cetera Advisors—the parent firm and its child, so to speak.
A pending SEC civil complaint charged Vasquez with lying to investors in a real estate-related securities offering fraud called the New Economic Opportunities Fund I, LLC, and targeting investors' individual retirement accounts.
According to the SEC, Vasquez was registered with Investors Capital Corp and/or Cetera Advisors of Irvine when he committed the fraud.
Relative to allegations of Cetera's deficient supervision, FINRA fined Cetera Financial Specialists $200,000 in 2018 for supervisory deficiencies in failing to appropriately respond to at least three disclosures concerning broker Alex P Anderson, whom FINRA barred for abusing his Power of Attorney to allegedly steal $75,500 from a 94-year-old client.
Although Anderson was the focal point of that investigation, FINRA nonetheless found that Cetera failed to review at least 200 separate disclosures in addition to Anderson's, specifically pointing out that Cetera failed to review disclosures for brokers who had requested to act in a fiduciary capacity for non-family members, such as Anderson's holding Power of Attorney over an elderly client.
In December 2018, FINRA fined Cetera Advisor Networks of El Segundo, CA $1.4 million for supervisory violations regarding broker Mark Charles Koehler's unsuitable and excessive Class A mutual fund trading.
In October 2016, FINRA fined Cetera Financial Group's Investors Capital Corp $1.1 million for deficiently supervised unit investment trust (UIT) and steepener note transactions in which the firm failed to provide sales charge discounts, and unsuitably sold complex products to elderly customers.
A firm is bound by industry rule to supervise the activities of its representatives and may be held liable for illicit conduct that takes place under its watch. If you have invested with Nina Jessee, Cetera Advisors, or another broker or financial adviser who has sold you an unsuitable securities product, excessively traded, or otherwise engaged in misconduct has proven harmful to your investments or interests, perhaps exacerbated by a firm's failure to adequately supervise its stockbroker, please call our experienced FINRA arbitration attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.