Home > Blog > Archive for February, 2017

Archive for February, 2017


FINRA Dispute Resolution Issues Status Report on Arbitration Task Force Recommendations

Action Taken on 35 of 51 Recommendations to Date

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today released a status report on the recommendations made in the FINRA Dispute Resolution Task Force’s Final Report issued in December 2015. In July 2014, FINRA had formed a 13-member task force composed of individuals representing a broad range of interests in securities dispute resolution to consider possible enhancements to its arbitration and mediation forum. FINRA released an interim status report in October 2016 and today’s report sets forth further progress made to date. FINRA has discussed all of the task force recommendations with the National Arbitration and Mediation Committee (NAMC). FINRA has taken action on 35 of the 51 recommendations; 16 are pending.

Robert Cook, FINRA’s President and CEO, said, “We are very pleased to report that we have already implemented many of the task force’s recommendations, and we are diligently responding to the remaining recommendations. Many of the recommendations we are putting in place are meaningful changes that will position the forum to better serve all parties involved. The NAMC and FINRA staff are doing an effective job of comprehensively reviewing and promptly taking action on the recommendations.”

Many of the recommendations, particularly those involving forum transparency, arbitrator recruitment and training, and case administration processes did not require rulemaking and were implemented in 2016. Among those, the report notes that FINRA received 945 arbitrator applications in 2016, far exceeding its goal to recruit 750 new arbitrators. FINRA’s latest arbitrator demographic survey, which was conducted by an external consulting firm, showed particular progress in adding women and African-Americans to the roster. In 2016, 33 percent of the arbitrators added were women (compared to 26 percent in 2015) and 14 percent were African-American (compared to 4 percent in 2015).

FINRA commenced the rulemaking process on six of the recommendations. Of those, the SEC has already approved two proposals related to the number of public arbitrators on lists and motions to dismiss; there are four proposals in various stages in the rulemaking process, including a proposal addressing the task force recommendation to develop an intermediate form of adjudication for small claims.

The task force’s recommendations were reviewed by the NAMC, FINRA’s standing Board advisory committee, which recommended items to implement immediately, items that would require further discussion and items that may not be feasible.

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, regulates securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, and informing and educating the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.

Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor Barry Connell Arrested for Stealing more than $5 million from Client Accounts

On January 3, 2017, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that former Morgan Stanley financial advisor Barry Connell had been arrested and charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly using his position as a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley to defraud multiple clients out of at least $5 million over a one-year period. (“Former Financial Adviser At Global Bank Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Multimillon-Dollar Scheme To Defraud Clients”).

According to the press release that announced the indictment and arrest of financial advisor Connell, “as alleged, Barry Connell used his clients’ bank accounts as his own, siphoning off millions of dollars to pay for his extravagant lifestyle, including a country club membership and private jet expenses.”

According to the allegations in the indictment that was unsealed in the Manhattan federal court, from December 2015 to November 2016, Mr. Connell effected numerous unauthorized transactions from five accounts belonging to a single family of Morgan Stanley clients, and as a result, defrauded the clients of at least approximately $5 million.

It is alleged that, in some instances, Mr. Connell effected the fraudulent transactions by submitting Morgan Stanley forms falsely stating that he had received client instructions authorizing wire transfers to third parties for the client’s benefit, when in fact he had not received client authorization and the wire transfers were for financial advisor Connell’s own benefit. In other instances, Mr. Connell effected the fraudulent transactions by using one client’s checks, which had been intended only to pay the client’s bills, to instead pay for his own expenses including a year’s rent for a house near Las Vegas, country club membership fees, and private jet expenses.

Financial advisor Connell also allegedly paid bills for a credit card account in his spouse’s name, and made payments for his own benefit to automobile dealerships, an entertainment company, and a yacht company. Financial advisor Connell’s registration records indicate that, at the time of the events in question, he had been associated with the Morgan Stanley branch office located in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Copies of both the U.S. Department of Justice press release and the indictment of financial advisor Connell can be found at: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-financial-adviser-global-bank-charged-manhattan-federal-court-multimillon-dollar.

If you are an individual or institutional investor who has any concerns about your investments with financial advisor Barry Connell or Morgan Stanley, please contact us for a no-cost and no-obligation evaluation of your specific facts and circumstances. You may have a viable claim for recovery of your investment losses by filing an individual securities arbitration claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

The Importance of Selection of Counsel

The retention of an attorney is an important decision made with great care. Please review our web site and examine our experience and credentials.


Contact Us