Tiffany Danielle Peacock-Asakawa, a former general securities representative with both Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. and Merrill Lynch, was suspended for 10 months from associating with any FINRA-regulated firm in any capacity, while also being subject to a $15,000 fine after consenting to FINRA findings that she had executed trades for customers without being licensed, lied on her firms’ compliance questionnaires, and had engaged in discretionary trading in customer accounts without their approval or approval from Merrill Lynch. FINRA Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent No. 2012035351901 (Aug. 28, 2015).

Public disclosure records reveal that Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., on September 13, 2013, terminated Asakawa (via discharge) after alleging that she knowingly attempted to place trades for clients in the state she was not registered by using the rep number of another individual licensed in the state, along with allegations that she was unresponsive to compliance and regional management.

According to the Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent from April of 2013 through September of 2013, when associated with Raymond James, Tiffany Asakawa had accepted 22 trade orders for six of her Hawaii customers even though she was not licensed during that period as a securities agent in the state of Hawaii. The AWC indicated that Asakawa, after accepting the orders of her customers, would then enter such orders in the trade order system of Raymond James, falsely identifying one of her sales assistants, referred to as “SL”, as the rep who accepted the orders. FINRA found that Asakawa’s conduct of entering inaccurate trade orders was violative of FINRA Rule 2010, and Asakawa’s conduct of causing her firm to maintain inaccurate records and books with respect to the 22 trade orders was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511.

Further, the AWC noted that in September of 2013, Asakawa had falsely stated to her compliance staff at Raymond James that SL entered the 22 trade orders. Asakawa, according to the AWC, would attempt to persuade SL to help corroborate Asakawa’s misstatements. FINRA found this conduct to be in violation of FINRA Rule 2010.

The AWC further indicated that from April of 2009 to September of 2012, at a time when Asakawa was associated with Merrill Lynch, she had executed a minimum of 200 discretionary trades in the accounts of two of her customers, all without any written authorization prior to trading nor approval from her firm. FINRA also found that Asakawa had lied in 4 compliance questionnaires regarding her conduct, where she claimed she hadn’t entered the trades in her customers’ accounts in a discretionary manner. FINRA found this conduct to be in violation of FINRA Rule 2010 and NASD Rule 2510(b).

Public disclosure records reveal that Tiffany D. Peacock-Asakawa has been subject to at 11 disclosure incidents, in which at least 6 are customer disputes. In September 10, 2010, she settled a customer dispute for $7,500.00 after a customer alleged unauthorized trading, unsuitable investment recommendations, and excessive trading. On August 23, 2012, Asakawa settled a customer dispute for $28,510.00 after a client alleged that an investment was purchased against her stated preferences in 2010. In February 26, 2013, Asakawa settled a customer dispute for $520,000.00 after a client alleged excessive trading and unsuitable investment recommendations from 2008 to 2011.

On July 8, 2013, Asakawa settled a customer dispute for $200,000.00 after customers alleged unsuitable investment recommendations, unauthorized trading, possible conversion of funds and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from January 2010 to September of 2012. On September 15, 2014, Asakawa settled a customer dispute for $1,500,000.00 after a client alleged excessive trading from January of 2008 through September 2012. Finally, Asakawa settled a claim with a client for $30,000.00 after the customer alleged unsuitable investment recommendations, unauthorized trading, and misrepresentation and omission of material facts from January of 2008 to December of 2011.

This is also not the first time Asakawa was suspended by FINRA. Asakawa was suspended by FINRA on July 16, 2015, for failing to comply with an arbitration award / settlement agreement or satisfactorily respond to a FINRA request to provide information concerning the status of compliance.

By definition, a broker is liable for making unauthorized trades without the customer’s prior authorization. Absent written discretion, it is a violation of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5, as promulgated thereunder, to effect transactions in customer accounts without their prior authorization or consent.

Customers also have a duty to review securities purchase and sale confirmations and review their securities accounts. If a stockbroker has placed unauthorized transactions in a customer account, the customer under most circumstances has a duty to act, or a duty to complain, or else generally, the customer may be deemed to have ratified these transactions, with actual or imputed knowledge, by doing nothing. Under such circumstances, a customer’s damages may be limited to the time they knew or should have known about the unauthorized transactions.

However, the rules do not contemplate de facto discretion, or the acquiescence to a pattern of discretionary trading without a formal trading authority. It is an actionable violation of the rules and is generally indicative of other bad or wrongful conduct.

Guiliano Law Group

If you have been the victim of securities fraud and you have a complaint, you should consult with an attorney. The practice of Nicholas J. Guiliano, Esq., and The Guiliano Law Group, P.C., is limited to the representation of investors in claims for fraud in connection with the sale of securities, the sale or recommendation of excessively risky or unsuitable securities, breach of fiduciary duty, and the failure to supervise. We accept representation on a contingent fee basis, meaning there is no cost unless we make a recovery for you, and there is never any charge for a consultation or an evaluation of your claim. For more information contact us at (877) SEC-ATTY.

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