Securities Arbitration Investment Fraud Lawyers » Investment and Regulatory News » Avantax Investment Services Settles FINRA Arbitration Alleging Stockbroker Theft

Court building

Thomas H. Laws of Silver City, New Mexico, a stockbroker registered with Avantax Investment Services, was the subject of a customer initiated investment related FINRA securities arbitration claim that was settled for $65,000.00 in damages based upon allegations that Laws misappropriated funds and made unsuitable recommendations of direct investments (DPPs and LPs) when Laws was associated with HD Vest Investment Services now known as Avantax Investment Services. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Arbitration No. 19-03714 (June 11, 2021).

This is not the first time that Laws has been referenced in a customer initiated investment related dispute concerning Laws’ conduct in the securities industry. FINRA Public Disclosure shows that Laws was also referenced in a FINRA securities arbitration claim that was settled for $232,000.00 in damages based upon allegations that Laws committed fraud and misappropriated funds. FINRA Arbitration No. 19-03399 (April 29, 2021).

Laws has been sanctioned by SEC and FINRA. He was barred by SEC from being a stockbroker or an investment advisor representative based upon allegations that he misappropriated $1,100,000.00 in investor funds that were provided to him through Santa Fe – a mining company where Laws was the Chief Executive Officer. In the Matter of Thomas H. Laws, Administrative Proceeding, File No. 3-19244 (July 10, 2019).

The Commission’s complaint alleged, among other things, that “from at least August 2016 through February 2018, Santa Fe transferred directly to Laws and an entity he controlled approximately $1.1 million of investors’ funds for various corporate purposes, including the purchase of a silver mine, the acquisition of mining claims, the purchase of mining equipment, and for third party services to the company. Rather than use the funds for corporate purposes, Laws misappropriated these funds and attempted to hide his theft by fabricating documents, including by forging vendor invoices, agreements, bank records, communications, and signatures. Because Laws misappropriated investor funds, he knew that multiple Santa Fe periodic reports filed with the Commission, each of which were signed and certified by Laws, were materially false and misleading.”

FINRA Public Disclosure shows that Laws has been barred from associating with any FINRA member because Laws failed to testify during the time that FINRA investigated the stockbroker for possible violations of FINRA rules. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent No. 2019061095601 (April 10, 2019).

According to the AWC, in 2019, FINRA began an investigation into allegations that Laws engaged in private securities transactions during the time that he was associated with HD Vest Investment Services. In connection with that investigation, FINRA sent Laws a request to appear for testimony on March 26, 2019. On that same date, Laws indicated to FINRA that he had received the request but would not appear for testimony at any time. Therefore, Laws violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 8210.

Laws was associated with HD Vest Investment Services in Silver City, NM, as a stockbroker from November of 2006 to November of 2017.