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Allegations of Selling Away Leading to Investment Loss Pending Against Suspended Former Bhargava Capital Financial Advisor Tonya Smoake

Tonya Smoake (CRD#: 4985049) is a previously registered Broker and previously registered Investment Advisor.


Broker’s Background


She entered the securities industry in 2007 and previously worked for Bhargava Capital; Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments; and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc.


Allegations Of Conduct Leading To Investment Loss


According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in March 2021, FINRA sanctioned Tonya Smoake, levying a civil and administrative penalty/fine of $5,000, and suspending her from all capacities for a period of 12 months beginning April 5, 2021 and ending April 4, 2022. The FINRA sanction states, “Without admitting or denying the findings, Smoake consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that she participated in private securities transactions involving approximately $1.6 million in total sales, without providing her member firm with prior written notice. The findings stated that Smoake facilitated investments in a registered investment advisor (RIA) and its holding company, both of which raised capital through a securities offering pursuant to Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933. Smoake was the chief operations officer (COO) of the RIA at the time of the offerings and was involved in the RIA and the offerings by the RIA’s chief executive officer (CEO). To facilitate the investments, Smoake distributed offering documents to, and gathered signed documents from, investors, answered investor questions and coordinated investor payments. Smoake did not receive any commissions from the sale of the securities and none of the investors were firm customers. The findings also stated that Smoake inaccurately certified on the firm’s annual compliance questionnaires that she was not involved in any private securities transaction that had not been previously disclosed to the firm.”


For a copy of the FINRA sanction, click here.


In addition, Tonya Smoake has been the subject of one disclosure:


  • March 2020–”Tonya Smoake was requested to respond on a pending investigation of violation of rule 3280 against the CEO of Avestar Capital LLC. Given her affiliation with FINRA she was requested to respond on any knowledge or any participation she may or may not have had. This is currently being investigated and an affidavit attesting to no involvement from Tonya Smoake is in process of being prepared.” The investigation remains open.


For a copy of Tonya Smoake’s FINRA BrokerCheck, click here.


We Help Investors Recover Investment Losses


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) strictly prohibits financial advisors from “selling away” or selling securities and investments to clients that are not offered by the brokerage firm with which they are employed. For example, it is illegal and a violation of industry rules for a financial advisor to recommend or even suggest that a client invest in the financial advisor’s own business or a business operated by his or her friends or family. It is not necessary that the financial advisor earn any compensation for recommending an outside investment.


The purpose behind this prohibition is to ensure that a financial advisor only offers to sell securities that have been vetted by his or her employer brokerage firm through a rigorous due diligence process. Most brokerage firms have an approved list of investments, products, and research that can be provided or made available to clients. Any deviation by the financial advisor from the approved product list may constitute selling away.


The Wolper Law Firm represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration on a contingency fee basis.  Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, is a trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities. Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters. We can be reached at (800) 931-8452 or by email at mwolper@wolperlawfirm.com.

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