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Finra Suspends, Fines Ex-Merrill FA Over Role in Outside Investments

By Alex Padalka November 2, 2020

Finra says it has suspended and fined a former Merrill Lynch financial advisor over outside investments.

The self-regulator alleges that between January 2012 and August 2013, Andrew LeBlanc II took part in two private securities transactions involving $1.75 million in securities without providing written notice to Merrill as required. LeBlanc was registered with Merrill from 1995 to 2017, according to his BrokerCheck profile.

Last week, LeBlanc consented to a six-month suspension and to pay a $20,000 fine without admitting or denying the findings, according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent published by the industry’s self-regulator.

In the first instance, LeBlanc allegedly participated in a customer’s purchase of a $500,000 membership interest in a closely held firm organized as an LLC, according to the letter of acceptance. In the second instance, LeBlanc allegedly took part in the sale of $1.25 million worth of preferred stock in a men’s apparel company to three customers, Finra says.

In both instances, LeBlanc allegedly neither originated the investments nor made the recommendations, and he also didn’t receive compensation for his role in the deals, according to the letter of acceptance. But he allegedly arranged for and attended a meeting about the first deal and attended a meeting about the second deal, Finra says. Additionally, he received and forwarded legal documents, discussed the investments with the two companies’ executives and received instructions from two of the customers to fund the investments from their Merrill accounts, according to the letter of acceptance.

Meanwhile, even though the two firms are still in operation, Finra says the customers aren’t likely to see a return on their investments.

In addition to failing to provide written notice to Merrill about the private securities deals, LeBlanc also allegedly failed to list his involvement on Merrill’s annual certifications during June 2013 and May 2014, according to the letter of acceptance.

Merrill allowed LeBlanc to voluntarily resign in March 2017 and amended his Form U5 termination filing in June that year to disclose that it received a complaint from one of his customers, Finra says.

After his departure from Merrill in April 2017, LeBlanc registered with investment advice firm Bruderman Asset Management and the broker-dealer Bruderman Brothers, and he remains registered with both, according to BrokerCheck.

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Tags:  Regulatory/legal issues , Merrill Lynch

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