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Cetera's Christopher Kozak Suspended for Undisclosed Outside Business Activity with Nutrition Bar Investments

FINRA fined and suspended former Cetera Advisors (Highlands Ranch, Colorado) broker Christopher Kozak for serving as Chief Operating Officer of an outside business in which several Cetera customers had been solicited to invest, all without disclosing the business activity nor the transactions to Cetera. The sanctions come a year after FINRA first issued a Wells Notice to former Cetera broker Scott Patrick Kozak, who lists himself on social media as a founding partner of Kozak & Associates, which is the firm where Christopher Kozak served as COO.

In AWC #2017053017201, investigators found that stockbroker Chris Kozak (CRD #5530806) conducted due diligence on behalf of the outside business seeking to acquire a nutrition bar marketing firm at a request of another registered representative and served as COO until he left the company in 2019.

Christopher Kozak has served as Chief Operating Officer at Kozak & Associates Private Asset Management, a financial planning and wealth management firm, with branches in Highlands Ranch, CO, and Irvine, California. Trevor Tripp—who also was associated with Cetera until 2018—is listed as a financial adviser at Kozak and Associates (BrightScope indicates that Kozak & Associates has two employees: Kozak and Tripp).

According to a Twitter account for Kozak, the product in question is called PR Bar, also based in Colorado. Both Kozaks additionally listed "IGC, LLC" as a business activity on FINRA BrokerCheck. IFG in turn is described as a "manufacturer and seller or protein bars."

Trevor Nolen Tripp (CRD #5700505) has not been registered as a broker since 2018 when he was briefly associated with Private Client Services, LLC after leaving Cetera's El Segundo, CA location, but remains a registered investment adviser with the SEC, employed by Kozak & Associates, and holds registrations in two states per his IAPD report. In Colorado, his registration status is approved, while in Texas, his registration status is "Restricted Approval." FINRA has not disciplined Tripp for any misconduct.

Scott Patrick Kozak (CRD #1272583) similarly is a previously registered broker and currently-registered investment adviser, who also was registered with Cetera Advisors until the firm terminated him in 2018 for allegedly violating firm policy prohibiting personal securities transactions. In March 2019, the Colorado Division of Securities notified Kozak of FINRA's preliminary determination to recommend discipline for engaging in private securities transactions and outside business activities without prior notice to or approval from Cetera. Scott P Kozak's IAPD report lists current employment at Ridit Consulting (aka Řídit Consulting) in Highlands Ranch, CO (as a principal).

FINRA also noted that of the $530,000 of investments that the unnamed registered representative in the aforementioned AWC solicited from Cetera customers in the nutrition bar marketing company, approximately $300,000 has not been repaid.

If you have invested with Christopher Kozak or another broker or financial adviser at Cetera Advisors or Kozak & Associates who has solicited investments in an outside business such as IGC, LLC without disclosing this activity to or receiving approval from the FINRA-registered firm (Cetera), and this illicit investment has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call an experienced FINRA arbitration attorney at The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.

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