cannabis leaf

Steven Harris of Burr Ridge Illinois a stockbroker formerly associated with Transamerica Financial Advisors Inc. has been barred from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity according to a Default Decision containing findings that Harris failed to cooperate with FINRA personnel during an investigation into allegations of his misconduct that had been referenced by a customer who complained to the regulator. Department of Enforcement v. Steven Harris Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2019062092401 (July 24, 2020).

According to the Decision, FINRA received a complaint which contained accusations of a customer’s money being taken by Harris so that an investment could be made in the hemp or cannabis industry. The stockbroker was accused of never having provided the recommendations and research that pertained to that investment. Harris failed to return funds that the customer provided to him. The stockbroker also corresponded with the customer privately so that he could avoid detection by Transamerica.

On May 29, 2019, Harris was asked by FINRA to turn over documentation and information pertaining to his activities including bank statements and financial information from January 2018 to May 2019 concerning his outside business activity – Harris Investment Services Corporation (HISC). The regulator sought information on all bank accounts controlled or owned by Harris. The stockbroker lied to the regulator in his response. There was no mention by Harris of two bank accounts that he or HISC owned or controlled.

FINRA was also provided a false account summary that pertained to an account at HISC which covered activity between January 2018 and May 2019. The regulator indicated that Harris redacted information from an actual statement and then inserted a fake account number on the document.

On August 26, 2019, another incomplete and false response was provided by Harris with regard to two accounts. The stockbroker again handed the regulator fake account summaries. The stockbroker also lied to FINRA during his recorded testimony relating to the bank accounts. FINRA found that Harris’ conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 8210.

FINRA also found that Harris engaged in undisclosed outside business activities. During the period in which Harris became associated with Transamerica, he was told that he could not engage in an outside business activity through HISC. The stockbroker was actually told to stop doing business through HISC and to dissolve the company. Harris lied to Transamerica about the company being dissolved. The Decision stated that Transamerica was never told about Harris receiving payments from a customer and providing the customer with advisory services via an outside business activity. Harris’ conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 3270.

FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that Harris was discharged by Transamerica on May 21, 2019 based upon allegations that he took possession of customer funds for an investment opportunity not offered or approved by the securities broker dealer.