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Valentino Infante of Miami, Florida, a Stockbroker with Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, was barred from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm in any capacity per an Office of Hearing Officers Default Decision containing findings that Infante engaged in outside business activities without providing his employer with prior written notice; provided false responses on an annual compliance questionnaire; and failed to appear and give testimony in an on-the-record interview for FINRA. Department of Enforcement v. Valentino Infante, No. 2013038021001 (Dec. 21, 2015).
According to the Decision, FINRA began the investigation that led to the proceeding after receiving a Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration (Form U5) from Wells Fargo filed August 19, 2013, where the firm reported that it terminated Infante for recommending investments to a client which were not conducted through the firm and not recorded on firm books and records, and failure to disclose outside business activities to the firm.
The Decision stated that in September 18, 2012, Infante had established a limited liability company in Florida known as IMonsters Machinery, a heavy machinery resale business. The Decision stated that on two separate occasions in August and October 2012, Infante had solicited PS, a Wells Fargo client, to provide funding to purchase equipment for the business.
The Decision further indicated that in the August 2012 transaction, PS had authorized two wire transfers from her Wells Fargo brokerage account totaling $24,000, one for $22,000 to purchase a tractor and another for $2,000 for transportation of the tractor. The tractor was reportedly sold for approximately $33,000. PS received $28,000 in connection with the transaction which included a $4,000 profit, and Infante received $1,100 in compensation.
In October 2012, PS had authorized a wire transfer from her Wells Fargo brokerage account for $34,250 to partially fund the purchase of an excavator. PS reportedly wrote a check in the amount of $2,550 against her Wells Fargo brokerage account to be used for the transport of the excavator. In June 2013, PS received $25,000 in connection with her investment in the excavator, incurring a loss of $11,800 in the transaction. Infante apparently expected to be paid compensation in the transaction but did not receive any. Yet, his firm subsequently paid PS $9,500 which reduced her loss to $2,300. FINRA found that Infante had engaged in these outside business transactions in violation of Rule 3270 and Rule 2010.
Additionally, the Decision indicated that on May 6, 2013, Infante had completed his 2013 compliance questionnaire, indicating that he had not engaged in outside business activities, despite him actually serving as the sole owner of IMonsters, an active corporation in Florida. FINRA found that by falsely answering the questionnaire, Infante violated Rule 2010.
Finally, on January 5, 2015, FINRA requested that Infante be present for an on–the-record interview, where Infante was expected to provide testimony in connection with FINRA’s investigation into the alleged misconduct. Infante reportedly failed to appear for testimony on two separate occasions. Infante’s conduct was violative of Rules 8210 and 2010 for failing to appear.
FINRA Stockbrokers like Infante who do not cooperate with FINRA’s investigations often face a permanent bar from practicing in the securities industry as such lack of cooperation violates FINRA’s Rule 8210 – requiring that no member or person shall fail to provide information or testimony or permit an inspection and copying of books, records, or accounts pursuant to the rule. FINRA typically accompanies a Rule 8210 violation with a Rule 2010 violation when individuals, according to FINRA, do not appear to observe high standards for commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.
Additionally, FINRA Rule 3270 has stated that no registered person like Infante may be an employee, independent contractor, sole proprietor, officer, director or partner of another person, or be compensated, or have the reasonable expectation of compensation, from any other person as a result of any business activity outside the scope of the relationship with his/her member firm, unless he/she is provided prior written notice to the member. Selling away, also known as private securities transactions or undisclosed outside business activities, occurs when a Stockbrokerengages or participates in the sale of securities to investors outside of the formal approval of the securities firm with whom they are associated.
Public disclosure records reveal that Infante has been subject to four disclosure incidents. On July 24, 2013, Infante settled a customer dispute for $9,500 after a customer alleged that Infante solicited transactions in a private offering. He was also subject to another customer dispute on July 6, 2015, where the client alleged that the transactions in NBR were without consent.
Guiliano Law Group
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