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Former Westpark Capital Broker, Gregory Ricker, Suspended Six Months By FINRA For Allegeding Engaging In Private Securities Transactions

Gregory Ricker (CRD #1834893) was a Financial Advisor at Westpark Capital in Boca Raton, FL. Gregory Ricker has been in the securities industry since 1992 and previously worked at National Securities Corp.

According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), on June 29, 2020, Gregory Ricker was sanctioned by FINRA, suspending him for a period of six months, fining him $5,000 and ordering disgorgement of $75,000. According to the FINRA sanction:

“Without admitting or denying the findings, Ricker consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he participated in private securities transactions by referring a potential investor to a company and receiving selling compensation in the amount of $75,000 for the investor’s two investments that totaled $750,000 in the company without notifying and receiving prior written approval from his member firm. The findings stated that Ricker made false statements to the firm on annual compliance questionnaires concerning his participation in the private securities transactions.”

For a copy of the FINRA sanction, click https://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/fda_documents/2019062084002%20Gregory%20A.%20Ricker%20CRD%201834893%20AWC%20va.pdf.

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.

In addition, Gregory Ricker has been the subject of seven customer complaint disclosures, alleging sales practice violations during his career. Among the complaints allege the following:
• July 2019—”
Churning & Unsuitable Trading.” The matter was settled for $22,500.
• March 2019—”
Breach of Fiduciary, failure to supervise.” The matter remains pending.
• August 2009—”
CLAIMANT, A RESIDENT OF FLORIDA, ALLEGES BETWEEN 2005 AND 2008 FA CAUSED MONETARY LOSSES IN HIS PORTFOLIO BY RECKLESSLY CHURNING AND ENGAGING IN UNAUTHORIZED TRADING IN THE ACCOUNTS AND BY INVESTING IN SPECULATIVE AND UNSUITABLE OPTIONS TRADING. CLAIMANT IS SEEKING AN AWARD FOR DAMAGES, PUNITIVE DAMAGES, INTEREST, COSTS ANDOTHER RELIEF.” The matter was settled for $70,000.
• March 2009—”
EXCESSIVE AND UNAUTHORIZED TRADING.” The matter was settled for $31,079.
• May 2016—” CUSTOMER STATES THAT ADVISOR FAILED TO EXERCISE OPTION ON GILEAD SCIENCE STOCK AT STRIKE PRICE OF $65 AS REQUESTED.” The complaint was denied.
• January 2000—” WITH CLIENTS PERMISSION EARLY 1998 LIQUIDATED JUNK BOND MUTUAL FUNDS THAT WHERE PURCHASED IN HER DECEASED SPOUSE ACCOUNT, WITH THE PROCEEDS PURCHASED UNIT TRUSTS, ROLLED OUT OF UNIT TRUST IN EARLY SPRING DUE TO MARKET DECLINE, CLIENT DID NOT SUFFER ANY LOSSES. CLIENT SIGNED AND AUTHOIRZED THE SURRENDER OF A SMALL ANNUITY, SHE WAS THE BENEFICIARY. FEEL THIS WAS MISCOMMUNITATION WITH CLIENT.” The matter was settled for $20,000.

For a copy of Gregory Ricker’s CRD, click https://brokercheck.finra.org/individual/summary/1834893#disclosuresSection

Financial advisors have a legal and regulatory obligation to recommend only suitable investments that are appropriate for their clients’ needs and objectives. Their employing brokerage firm has a legal and regulatory obligation to supervise the Financial Advisors’ sales practices and dealings with clients. To the extent any of these duties are breached, the customer may be entitled to a recovery of his or her investment losses.

Reasonable basis suitability requires that a recommended investment or investment strategy be suitable or appropriate for at least some investors. Reasonable basis suitability requires an advisor to conduct adequate due diligence so that he or she can determine the risks and rewards of the investment or investment strategy.

Quantitative suitability requires a brokerage firm or financial advisor with actual or de facto control over a customer’s account to have a reasonable basis for believing that a series of recommended transactions – even if suitable when viewed in isolation – is not excessive and unsuitable for the customer when taken together in light of the customer’s investment profile. No single test defines excessive activity, but factors such as the turnover rate, the cost-equity ratio, and the use of in-and-out trading in a customer’s account may provide a basis for a finding that a member or associated person has violated the quantitative suitability obligation.
Customer-specific suitability requires that a member or associated person have a reasonable basis to believe that the recommendation is suitable for a particular customer based on that customer’s investment profile. Among the criteria that a financial advisor must evaluate to satisfy his or her customer-specific suitability obligations include the investor’s:
• Age
• Other investments
• Financial situation and needs
• Tax status
• Investment objectives
• Time horizon
• Liquidity needs
• Risk tolerance
• Any other information disclosed by the customer

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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