Giustino Destefano, of Williamsville, New York, a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch, was fined $10,000.00 and suspended for three months from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity after consenting to findings that he engaged in unauthorized discretionary trading and mismarked customers’ order tickets as unsolicited. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent. No. 2014041504101 (Mar. 9, 2016).
According to the AWC, from July 2013 through May 2014, Destefano had engaged in unauthorized discretionary trading in four of his firm’s customers’ accounts. The AWC indicated that Merrill Lynch’s policies and procedures prohibited stockbrokers from exercising discretion in customer accounts unless customers provided written authorization and the firm approved of such accounts as discretionary prior to trading taking place. Destefano reportedly failed to gain such written approval from his clients and additionally failed to gain firm approval. FINRA found that Destefano’s conduct in this regard was violative of FINRA Rule 2010 and NASD Conduct Rule 2510(b) as a result.
The AWC further indicated that from July 2013 through May 2014, over one-hundred order tickets were mismarked by Destefano as unsolicited trades. The AWC stated that Destefano’s trades were in fact solicited. As such, Destefano reportedly caused Merrill Lynch to maintain inaccurate records and books. FINRA found that Destefano’s conduct in this regard was violative of FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010.
Public disclosure records reveal that Destefano has been subject to five disclosure incidents. On May 19, 2014, Merrill Lynch allowed Destefano to resign amid allegations that he mismarked order tickets and had engaged in recommendations of securities outside of the auspices of his firm.
On January 3, 2015, a customer lodged a complaint against Destefano alleging substantial market losses in the customer’s account. On February 2, 2015, Destefano was terminated by Securities America, Inc., amid allegations of failing to follow his firm’s policies. On September 21, 2015, Destefano became subject to a pending customer dispute, where a customer is requesting $425,699.00 after alleging misrepresentation, unsuitable investment recommendations, as well as unauthorized and excessive trading.
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