Joshua David Nicholas (also known as Josh Nicholas), of Stuart, Florida, a stockbroker registered with Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Inc., has been barred from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity because Nicholas converted a customer’s funds and engaged in private securities transactions. Case No. 2020067572701 (Jan. 24, 2022).
According to the AWC, in May 2020, during the time that he was associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Inc., Nicholas induced customers to enter into a promissory note with a company that Nicholas wholly owned. At Nicholas’ direction, the customers loaned the company $300,000.00 to invest in securities on their behalf. The note obligated the company to pay 17% interest per year and required the company to secure the principal balance through the purchase of securities. Nicholas did not invest the funds but instead used $58,000.00 of the funds to pay his own personal expenses.
In July 2020, the customers requested that Nicholas give them a copy of an account statement from the company showing that the funds had been invested as agreed. Nicholas provided the customers with a phony account statement for an account that did not exist that also contained material misrepresentations. Lastly, Nicholas failed to give his firm prior written notice of his outside business activities. Nicholas violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 3280 as a result.
This is not the first time that Nicholas has been the subject of a regulatory action concerning his conduct in the securities industry. FINRA Public Disclosure shows that Nicholas has been suspended from NFA membership based upon allegations that Nicholas failed to comply with an NFA investigation. Case No. 20-MRA-001 (Sept. 11, 2020).
On May 4, 2021, Nicholas was fined $125,000.00 by National Futures Association (NFA) based upon allegations that Nicholas provided false and misleading information to NFA in an investigation. Case No. 20-BCC-016.
FINRA Public Disclosure shows that Nicholas is also referenced in a customer initiated investment related FINRA securities arbitration claim that was settled for $275,000.00 in damages based upon allegations that Nicholas made unsuitable recommendations, engaged in private securities transactions and made omissions in connection with the recommendation and sale of investments when Nicholas was associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Inc. FINRA Arbitration No. 20-02541 (Aug. 7, 2020).
Joshua Nicholas was associated with Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner Smith Inc. in Stuart, FL, as a stockbroker from February 3, 2020 to July 31, 2020. Merrill Lynch terminated Nicholas’ registration based upon allegations that Nicholas engaged in forgery.