Western International Securities

Western International Securities Reg BI Violations

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has spotlighted significant concerns within the financial industry, casting a shadow over Western International Securities and a handful of its brokers.

The allegation involves an alleged breach of Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) involving the sale of GWG L Bonds, amounting to a staggering $13.3 million, between July 2020 and April 2021. This situation underscores the vital need for vigilance and due diligence in investment decisions, particularly when it involves complex financial products.

Western International Securities Accused of Failure to Conduct Due Diligence

Based in Pasadena, California, Western International Securities and its team of brokers—Nancy Cole, Patrick Egan, Andy Gitipityapon, Steven Graham, and Thomas Swan—stand accused of breaching Reg BI principles. Their failure to conduct thorough due diligence prior to recommending and selling to customers the high-risk investment known as GWG L Bonds to a predominantly retired retail investor demographic forms the crux of the allegations.

The period between July 2020 and April 2021 saw these brokers endorse and sell approximately $13.3 million worth of GWG L Bonds. This move targeted investors who allegedly predominantly relied on fixed income and demonstrated only a moderate appetite for risk, a stark contradiction to the SEC’s guidelines and the issuer’s own prospectus warnings regarding the bonds’ high-risk, illiquid nature, and suitability for only those with a high-risk investor profile.

In response to these alleged violations, the SEC is pushing for penalties, including permanent injunctions, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties against the implicated brokers and Western International Securities.

Western International Securities claims it is mounting a defense, maintaining that its practices have aligned with Reg BI and the regulatory framework in place during the relevant time frame. The firm claims a commitment to its clients’ best interests, hinting at a complex legal battle ahead.

This case emerges as a notable example of the SEC’s more aggressive enforcement under the leadership of SEC Chairman Gary Gensler. It also raises questions about the efficacy and stringency of Reg BI, with some industry experts suggesting that the alleged violations could have been pursued under the older, less stringent suitability rule. This perspective suggests that, while Reg BI was intended to elevate the standards of conduct for brokers, its practical impact might not be as revolutionary as initially anticipated.

Among the more poignant allegations in the SEC’s complaint is the case of a retired truck driver, referred to as Customer A, who invested $100,000 in L Bonds on the advice of broker Steven Graham. Despite the customer’s moderate risk tolerance and lack of speculative investment goals, the SEC argues that Graham’s recommendation lacked a substantive basis, failing to justify why L Bonds were recommended over other, potentially lower risk profile investment options.

Furthermore, the SEC criticizes Western International for its lax approach to Reg BI’s compliance obligation. The firm is accused of failing to establish, maintain, and enforce adequate written policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Reg BI. This includes a lack of specific criteria for L Bond investments and a failure to limit sales to investors with appropriate risk profiles and investment objectives.

The case against Western International and its brokers underscores the critical need for financial firms and advisors to adhere strictly to regulatory standards, ensuring that investments recommended to clients are thoroughly vetted and aligned with their financial goals and risk tolerance. It also highlights the evolving landscape of financial regulation, with the SEC poised to utilize its expanded toolkit to safeguard investors’ interests in an increasingly complex market.

Regulation Best Interest and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

Regulation Best Interest, a cornerstone of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, mandates that brokerage firms and their advisors prioritize the financial well-being of their clients above all else. However, the SEC charges that Western International Securities, alongside several of its financial advisors, sidestepped this crucial obligation, leading to the recommendation and sale of these speculative alleged junk bonds to investors who were ill-suited for such risky ventures.

These high-stake sales were allegedly predominantly targeted at older, less experienced investors, many of whom relied on fixed incomes and possessed only moderate risk tolerance. This demographic, often looking for stability rather than speculation, was ill-advised to plunge into the volatile realm of unrated L Bonds. The fallout from these decisions was further magnified when GWG Holdings, Inc., the issuer of these bonds, defaulted on its obligations, exacerbating the financial strain on unsuspecting investors.

Reif Law Group Can Help If You’re a Victim

At Reif Law Group, P.C., we understand the profound impact such events can have on individuals and families. The pathway to financial security is often fraught with challenges, and the prospect of navigating complex legal and financial landscapes can be daunting. However, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Our team of seasoned legal professionals is dedicated to safeguarding the interests of those who have been adversely affected by questionable, suspicious investment practices.

If you, or someone close to you, believes you’ve been the victim of investment related misconduct or mistreatment or have been adversely affected by the sale of GWG L Bonds, we urge you to reach out. Our expertise lies in dissecting complex legal and financial issues, offering clarity, and, most importantly, securing justice for our clients.

In an era where financial markets are increasingly complex and unpredictable, the importance of informed, principled investment guidance cannot be overstated. The case involving Western International Securities not only highlights the potential pitfalls awaiting uninformed investors but also underscores the critical need for transparency and integrity within the financial advisory sector. Such instances serve as a cautionary tale, reminding us all of the potential consequences of inadequate due diligence and sales practices and the paramount importance of adhering to established regulatory standards.

At Reif Law Group, our mission extends beyond mere legal representation. We are committed to educating and empowering our clients, equipping them with the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions about their financial futures. Our approach is founded on a bedrock of trust, transparency, and tireless advocacy for the rights and interests of those we serve.

Whether you’re seeking to recover losses from unsuitable investment recommendations, or simply looking for guidance in navigating the complexities of the financial landscape, our team is here to provide the support and expertise you need. With a deep understanding of both the legal and financial realms, we are uniquely positioned to offer comprehensive solutions tailored to your specific circumstances.

Remember, you are not alone in facing the challenges posed by the financial industry. With Reif Law Group as your partner, you can take a proactive stance against injustice and work towards securing a more stable, prosperous financial future. It’s time to turn the page on uncertainty and step forward with confidence.

At Reif Law Group, your financial well-being is our utmost priority, and we are committed to ensuring that your rights are vigorously protected.

Contact Reif Law Group Today

Don’t let uncertainty cloud your financial future. Contact Reif Law Group today, and take the first step towards reclaiming your financial security. Your peace of mind is invaluable, and with Reif Law Group by your side, you can navigate the tumultuous waters of investment with confidence and assurance.

Take action today. Reach out to Reif Law Group and discover how we can assist you in achieving financial justice and peace of mind. Together, we can navigate the complexities of the financial world and strive towards a future marked by security and success. Your journey towards financial recovery starts with a simple call or message – let’s embark on this path together.