Mark David Martino of White Plains, New York, the Chief Executive Officer of Ascendant Alternative Strategies LLC, has been fined $10,000.00 and suspended from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity because Martino failed to perform due diligence for a private placement offering. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent No. 2019064535602 (August 15, 2022).
According to the AWC, in 2019, Martino was responsible for conducting due diligence on a start-up firm involved in a private placement offering. Ascendant Alternative Strategies LLC was a placement agent for this start-up. FINRA states that the firm’s founder was sued for fraud by Federal Trade Commission. Martino knew of the lawsuit and considered it a red flag, but he failed to stay apprised of the developments of this lawsuit and how it would impact investors. FINRA also states that Martino failed to implement supervisory procedures concerning due diligence, and he used unauthorized devices to communicate with prospective customers and the start-up’s founder. Therefore, Martino violated FINRA Rules 2010, 3111, and 4511.
This is not the first time that Martino has been the subject of a regulatory action concerning Martino’s conduct in the securities industry. FINRA Public Disclosure shows that Martino has been ordered by the state of Massachusetts to be on heightened supervision as a condition of registering with a securities broker dealer in the state based upon allegations that Martino was the subject of customer complaints and a regulatory enforcement action resulting in sanctions. Massachusetts Enforcement Action No. R-2021-0088 (October 12, 2021).
Martino is also referenced in a customer initiated investment related AAA securities arbitration claim in which the customer requested compensation based upon allegations that Martino made misrepresentations of material fact, was negligent, committed fraud, and violated state securities laws in connection with the sale of direct investments (DPPs and LPs) when Martino was associated with Ascendant Alternative Strategies LLC. AAA Arbitration (May 13, 2021).
Martino was associated with Ascendant Alternative Strategies LLC in White Plains, NY, as a stockbroker from March of 2017 to February of 2021, and was associated with Axiom Capital Management Inc. in New York, NY, as a stockbroker from March of 1993 to March of 2017. He has been associated with The Benchmark Company LLC in New York, NY, as a stockbroker since February 17, 2021.