On March 27, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced formal charges against Wedbush Securities Inc. (“Wedbush”, CRD# 877) with respect to allegations that the broker-dealer failed to supervise its employee, Ms. Timary Delorme (f/k/a Timary Koller) (“Delorme”). Based on its investigation, the SEC alleged Wedbush ignored numerous red flags indicating that Ms. Delorme — who has been affiliated with Wedbush as a registered representative since 1981 — was purportedly involved in a manipulative penny stock trading scheme with Izak Zirk Englebrecht, a/k/a Zirk De Maison “(“Englebrecht”).
As alleged by the SEC, Mr. Englebrecht engaged in manipulative trading, commonly referred to as “pump and dumps”, through the use of various thinly traded microcap penny stocks. According to the SEC’s allegations, Ms. Delorme purchased stocks at Englebrecht’s behest in certain customer accounts, and in turn received undisclosed material benefits. Moreover, the SEC’s findings suggest that Wedbush ignored numerous red flags associated with Ms. Delorme’s alleged involvement in the scheme, including a customer email outlining her involvement, as well as several FINRA arbitrations regarding her penny stock trading activity.
In response to the red flags, Wedbush purportedly conducted two investigations into Ms. Delorme’s conduct. The SEC has characterized Wedbush’s investigation as “flawed and insufficient”, and that ultimately the brokerage firm failed to take appropriate action to address the alleged misconduct. The SEC’s order instituting administrative proceedings against Wedbush charges that the broker-dealer failed to reasonably supervise its broker, Ms. Delorme. The matter will come before an administrative law judge, who will hear the case and prepare an initial decision — there have not yet been any findings of misconduct.
Founded in 1955, Los Angeles based Wedbush formed its brokerage unit in July 1966. As of June 2017, Wedbush’s Wealth Management Group provides various wealth management services through approximately 400 financial advisors located in roughly 100 offices nationwide. Brokerage firms like Wedbush have a duty to ensure that their registered representatives are adequately supervised. Brokerage firms must also take reasonable steps to ensure that their financial advisors follow all applicable securities rules and regulations, in addition to internal policies and procedures. In instances when brokerage firms fail to adequately supervise their registered representatives, they may be held liable for losses sustained by investors.
Both the SEC and FINRA have issued ample guidance concerning trading in penny stocks, which is generally regarded as a risky proposition due to a host of factors, including the lack of transparency as to information about the investment, including financials. In addition, penny stocks, due in part to their characteristic low-price and low-volume, are particularly susceptible to fraudulent activity such as pump and dump schemes by unscrupulous stock manipulators.
Attorneys at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. have handled a number of disputes on behalf of investors, including losses sustained due to instances of alleged fraudulent conduct and market manipulation. Investors may contact a securities arbitration attorney by telephone at (866) 966-9598, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-cost, confidential consultation.