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Benjamin F. Edwards and Co., Inc. Broker John Griner Fined and Suspended After Allegedly Improperly Exercising Discretion Without Proper Authorization

John Griner (CRD#: 1024669) is a registered broker and investment adviser employed by Benjamin F. Edwards and Co., Inc.

According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), on January 7, 2021, John Griner was fined $5,000 and suspended for 15 days beginning February 1, 2021, for exercising discretion without written authorization in customer accounts and without the approval of his member firm.

Summary Detail of Allegations

According to the FINRA sanction, “Without admitting or denying the findings, Griner consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he exercised discretion without written authorization in customer accounts. The findings stated that Griner effected multiple trades in customers’ accounts without first speaking with the customers on the days he effected these trades. Although the customers knew that Griner was exercising discretion in their accounts, Griner did not have prior written authorization to do so from any of the customers. Additionally, Griner’s member firm had not approved any of the accounts for discretionary trading.”

For a copy of John Griner’s FINRA disciplinary action details, click here.

John Griner’s civil and administrative penalty and fine were the results of allegations that he handled four customer accounts without the customers’ written authorization—a violation of FINRA rules—although they were aware of his actions. His member firm had not approved John Griner to exercise discretion in these accounts.

In addition to the foregoing, On October 29, 2019, John Griner voluntarily resigned from his position at MSWM after it was alleged certain transactions had not been confirmed properly with customers before being made.

On August 28, 2001, a customer dispute against John Griner was closed without action. He was accused of unauthorized manipulation of a customer’s account in 1999 and 2000, which resulted in a loss of $1.5 million. He denied the allegations.

For a copy of John Griner’s FINRA BrokerCheck in this case, click here.

When Brokers Failing to Exercise Discretion Is a Problem for Investors

FINRA regulations require that a customer’s written authorization is required before a broker-dealer can carry out transactions in the customer’s account. In addition, the broker-dealer’s member firm needs to approve the broker-dealer’s authorization. These measures are intended to protect the customer. Discretionary trading allows the broker-dealer to unilaterally decide to buy or sell securities at any price and not have to check with the client first. Exercising discretion without authorization can be costly to investors, and broker-dealers, and their member firms, too. When these regulatory rules are violated, customers may have legal recourse to pursue recovery of their investment losses.

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. Before 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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