On April 6, 2018, FINRA announced it barred securities broker William Brunner from associating with firms registered with FINRA. FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.) registers and regulates securities brokers and brokerage firms.
FINRA announced Brunner’s bar in a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC). The AWC stated FINRA barred Brunner for declining to provide sworn testimony in FINRA’s investigation. FINRA was investigating whether Brunner placed excessive and unauthorized trades in his customer’s accounts, a violation known as account churning.
This was not the first regulatory sanction against Brunner. In 1998, the NASD (now known as FINRA) fined and suspended Brunner after finding he misrepresented and omitted material information and committed fraud when he recommended securities to customers.
According to FINRA records, five of Brunner’s customers previously filed claims against him, including:
- In 2002, a customer complaint alleged, among other violations, Brunner fraudulently churned the customer’s account. In 2005, a court awarded the customer a $99,500 judgement in the case.
- In May 2017, a customer claim alleged, from March 2015 through February 2017, Brunner placed unauthorized trades and failed to disclose fees in account statements. As of April 8, 2018, this claim is pending.
- In June 2017, another customer filed a claim alleging Brunner churned the customer’s account. Brunner and Investment Planners settled this claim in March 2018 for $200,000.
William G. Brunner entered the securities industry in 1995 and has been registered with eight different brokerage firms. He was registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc. from May 2009 through March 2015 and with Investment Planners, Inc. from February 2015 through May 2017.
In May 2017, Investment Planners reported to FINRA that Brunner resigned after Investment Planners requested records from him regarding his client’s allegations that he placed unauthorized trades.
Recovery Options for Losses Due to Account Churning
Security rules and laws prohibit brokers, like William Brunner, from excessively trading customers’ accounts to intentionally generate fees and commissions for the brokers and their firms. This serious fraud, known as churning, can cause investors significant losses.
Additionally, rules require a broker to obtain a customer’s express written authority before the broker exercises discretion to place trades in the customer’s account. A broker who exercises discretion without obtaining such authority has committed a securities violation known as unauthorized trading.
Moreover, brokerage firms, like Investment Planners and First Midwest, owe investors a legal duty to closely supervise their brokers to ensure they do not commit violations, like churning and unauthorized trading. Investors have the right to pursue claims to recover their losses caused by firms inadequately supervising their brokers. Additionally, courts and arbitrators may hold firms jointly responsible for their brokers’ misconduct under agency law theories.
If you have suffered losses while investing with William Brunner, contact Marquardt Law Office LLC to speak with a securities attorney and receive a free evaluation.
Marquardt Law Office LLC is a securities law firm located in Chicago, IL that represents clients nationwide who have suffered losses due to misconduct such as fraud and negligence.