Watchdog Finra has ordered a former broker with more than 50 disclosures on his record to pay back 17 clients $4.3 million over allegedly unsuitable recommendations, according to an award posted by the industry’s self-regulator.
Anthony Diaz, previously registered with First Allied Securities, must pay $1 million in compensatory damages, $2.9 million in punitive damages and $413,000 in claimants’ attorneys’ fees, according to Finra. In November the claimants entered into a separate settlement with First Allied, according to the award.
Finra suspended Diaz indefinitely in 2015 for failing to comply with a settlement agreement or an arbitration award or to respond to the regulator’s requests for information, according to his BrokerCheck profile.
But back in 2014 Finra had also filed a complaint against Diaz alleging, among other misdeeds, he had made recommendations to clients of variable annuity exchanges without reasonable basis, failed to understand the product, falsified clients’ net worth so they would meet the minimum requirements for alternative investments, misled his member firms and product issuers, altered a signature to obtain an annuity from an insurance firm, made unauthorized trades in client accounts and more, according to BrokerCheck.
In addition, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities revoked his registration in the state in April 2017, and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities revoked his registration in the state in 2015 and fined him $10,000 for engaging in “unethical practices” and taking unfair advantage of Pennsylvania clients, according to BrokerCheck.
In all, the former broker has 53 disclosure records from his 14 years in the industry, including customer disputes and a tax lien. But Diaz was able to rotate through 11 different firms during his career, among them Edward Jones, the second firm to hire Diaz, in 2000, which then terminated his employment in 2002 for allegedly providing inaccurate information to a field supervisor.
Diaz nonetheless then had stints at Raymond James Financial Services and SII Investments, among other firms, according to BrokerCheck. In its 2014 complaint, Finra alleges Diaz was fired from four firms but continuously misled customers to think he had left voluntarily.