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Ex-Merrill FA Suspended, Fined Over Real Estate Side-Gig

By Alex Padalka October 16, 2020

Finra says it has suspended and fined a former Merrill Lynch financial advisor over failure to disclose an outside business activity of renting apartments. 

Between January 2017 and October 2018, Yury Ivanou allegedly generated more than $400,000 in gross revenues by renting five apartments as short-term rentals through a third-party website, without disclosing the outside business activity to Merrill, as required, according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent.

Ivanou was allegedly actively involved in managing the rentals, including handling reservations, checking in guests, purchasing supplies for the apartments, hiring cleaning staff and even picking up linens for laundering, the industry self-regulator says.

Yet on an annual compliance certification Ivanou completed on May 12, 2017, he allegedly failed to mention the rental business, according to the letter of acceptance.  Ivanou was registered with Merrill from 2015 to 2018, according to his BrokerCheck profile.

Finra says that Ivanou did make a partial disclosure in January 2018, but only after a supervisor heard him discussing his rental business and told him to disclose it.

Even then, however, Ivanou allegedly didn’t accurately disclose when the business began, the number of apartments, the frequency of rentals or how much he earned from the business, according to the letter of consent. 

Finra says Ivanou submitted another incomplete and inaccurate annual compliance certification in June 2018. 

Merrill allowed Ivanou to voluntarily resign in October 2018 over allegations of “[c]onduct including failure to adhere to Firm standards regarding selling away and failure to disclose participation in an outside business activity,” according to BrokerCheck. 

At the end of September, Ivanou consented to a three-month suspension and to pay a $5,000 fine without admitting or denying the findings, according to the letter of acceptance.

He has not been registered with another broker-dealer or investment advisor since his departure from Merrill two years ago, according to BrokerCheck and the SEC’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure database.

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