A husband and wife accused Raymond James and one of its former brokers — with a long history of client complaints — of fraud after they were advised to sink most of their nearly $1 million in pension cash into risky investments, according to an attorney representing them in FINRA arbitration.
Scott Allen Sibley, an ex-employee adviser who was fired from the regional brokerage, allegedly advised the retirees in 2010, when the husband retired, to cash out pension money they had saved in the Florida Retirement System, says attorney Lars Soreide, who filed the arbitration matter on the couple's behalf earlier this month.
Sibley, Soreide explains, then advised the couple to invest more than 70% of the cash in gold mining, metals and oil company stocks. At the time, the clients lived in Coconut Creek, Florida, and Sibley worked out of Raymond James' Fort Lauderdale branch office. The couple now lives in Sevierville, Tennessee.
The investments lost $300,000, which is the amount the clients are seeking in damages, plus attorney fees, according to the arbitration filing. Soreide, who is based in Pompano Beach, declined to name the couple.
According to the arbitration complaint filed with FINRA, Sibley committed fraud by making false representations to the retirees, convincing them to cash out their pension money by promising that he could generate more income for them without risking the principal. Instead, according to the arbitration filing, he made investments in volatile stocks unsuitable for senior citizens. Because the retirees never refused any trading recommendation that Sibley made, his level of responsibility was raised to a fiduciary duty to his clients, says Soreide. Sibley also made trades on the account that the clients learned of only after the fact, the attorney says.
The complaint also claims that no one from Raymond James attempted to build a diversified portfolio to protect the two clients’ retirement savings, or to implement a hedging or stop-loss strategy, and that Raymond James failed to supervise Sibley as he implemented a high-risk, concentrated-portfolio investment strategy that was unsuitable for retirees.
Besides the fraud accusation, Sibley and Raymond James were accused in the arbitration complaint of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent supervision, breach of contract and violating the Florida Investor’s Protection Act. Both Raymond James and Sibley declined to comment after they were contacted by On Wall Street. Neither has filed a response with FINRA arbitrators.
Sibley was terminated in February 2015 by Raymond James, where he had worked since 2007, after the firm received multiple customer complaints alleging unauthorized trading and improper use of time and price discretion, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. He currently works at Moors & Cabot in Boca Raton, Florida, where he started in March 2015.
BrokerCheck records show he has 16 customer disputes dating back to 1998, not including the most recent complaint. Twelve of the disputes were settled, including nine in 2015, with damages granted totaling $1,007,000 for the 12 cases. One matter that remains pending is seeking $675,000 in damages. Two other customer disputes were denied—in 2012 and 2000-- and a 2002 dispute was closed with no action, according to BrokerCheck.
Also listed in Sibley’s FINRA disclosure history is a judgement or lien for $89,598 in 2015. In 2015, Sibley was fined $15,000 and suspended 15 days by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation for allegedly trading on clients’ accounts without their written authority while he worked at Raymond James—sanctions that Sibley agreed to without admitting or denying the allegations, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.
Prior to Raymond James, he worked for Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia for seven years.
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