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FINRA awards Oppenheimer client $800K for unauthorized trades

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A FINRA arbitration panel ordered Oppenheimer & Co. to pay a client $800,000 in compensatory damages for unauthorized trades and other claims dating back to 2016.

Robert Dekas claimed the firm breached its fiduciary duty by executing trades in unsuitable investments. He also accused Oppenheimer of supervising failures, negligence and other violations of FINRA rules. The unauthorized trades included iShares Russell 2000 Index puts and calls, Proshares Trust PSHS Short S&P 500 ETFs and the Global Chartist Fund, according to the dispute document.

The claim also requested to expunge the incident from the central registration depository records of two advisors working with Oppenheimer at the time, James Forsythe and Carter Worth. The panel denied the request.

Worth, who is a frequent contributor to CNBC’s Options Action, entered a lengthy broker comment about the case on his FINRA BrokerCheck records. According to the comment, the customer, likely to be Dekas, approached Worth at a restaurant in 2010 after seeing him on TV. The customer, “handed me a business card and told me that he watched me on CNBC Options Action, thought that I did good work, and that he found my recommendations on air to be profitable.”

Worth never “instructed” the decision being made in the client’s account, he says, per BrokerCheck.

“Upon his becoming a client at the firm, I interacted with [the customer] just as I did with any/all individual clients,” Worth says in the FINRA comment. “And that is to say, we would speak on the phone, exchange emails and get together in person to share a meal.”

In 2011, the firm allowed Worth to open a fund “dedicated to picking stocks, currencies, commodities based in a technical appraisal of chart patterns,” per BrokerCheck. The fund was ultimately unsuccessful, per BrokerCheck.

“The fund never raised meaningful assets and the performance was poor; in 2013 the fund was closed and capital was returned to investors,” Worth says in the comment.

The original relief requested $2 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive and exemplary damages.

Worth is currently registered with the New York-based firm, Cornerstone Macro, per BrokerCheck. Forsythe still works with Oppenheimer, per BrokerCheck.

Attorneys for both parties did not return requests for comment. Oppenheimer declined to comment.

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