FINRA Files Fraud Charge Against AZ Muni Broker

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Lawson Financial Corporation, CEO Charged With Fraudulent Municipal Bond Sales, Misuse of Customer’s Charitable Trust Funds

Bonds Related to Charter School in Arizona and Two Assisted Living Facilities in Alabama

WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has filed a complaint against Phoenix-based firm, Lawson Financial Corporation, Inc. (LFC), and Robert Lawson, the firm’s President and Chief Executive Officer, charging them with securities fraud in connection with the sale of millions of dollars of municipal revenue bonds to customers. The complaint further charges Robert Lawson and Pamela Lawson, LFC’s Chief Operating Officer, with self-dealing by abusing their positions as co-trustees of a charitable remainder trust and improperly using the trust funds to indirectly prop up the struggling offerings. Based on the transfers of millions of dollars from the charitable remainder trust account, the complaint also charges Robert Lawson with misuse of customer funds.

The municipal revenue bonds at issue in the complaint include: (1) a $10.5 million bond offering in October 2014 for bonds relating to an Arizona charter school as underwritten by LFC and sold to LFC customers, as well as subsequent sales of these bonds to LFC customers in the secondary market; (2) secondary market bond sales to LFC customers in 2015 of earlier-issued municipal revenue bonds relating to the corporate predecessor of the same Arizona charter school; and (3) secondary market sales to LFC customers between January 2013 and July 2015 of earlier-issued municipal revenue bonds concerning two different assisted living facilities in Alabama.

The complaint alleges that Robert Lawson and LFC were aware of financial difficulties faced by the municipal revenue bond conduit borrowers (the charter school in Arizona and the two assisted living facilities in Alabama) and fraudulently hid from LFC customers who purchased the bonds the material facts that the charter school and the two assisted living facilities were under financial stress. The complaint alleges that Robert Lawson and LFC carried out their fraudulent scheme by transferring millions of dollars from a deceased customer’s charitable trust account to parties associated with the conduit borrowers to hide the financial condition of the bond borrowers and the risks posed to the municipal revenue bonds. In particular, the complaint alleges that LFC and Robert Lawson hid from LFC customers who purchased the bonds the material fact that Robert Lawson – in his role as co-trustee of the charitable trust account, and with the knowledge of his wife Pamela Lawson – was improperly transferring millions of dollars of funds from the charitable remainder trust account to various parties associated with the bond borrowers when the borrowers were not able to pay their operating expenses and, for certain of the bonds, were not able to make the required interest payments on the bonds.

The issuance of a disciplinary complaint represents the initiation of a formal proceeding by FINRA in which findings as to the allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint. Under FINRA rules, a firm or individual named in a complaint can file a response and request a hearing before a FINRA disciplinary panel. Possible remedies include a fine, censure, suspension or bar from the securities industry, disgorgement of gains associated with the violations and payment of restitution.

Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA’s BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2015, members of the public used this service to conduct 71 million reviews of broker or firm records.

Investors can access BrokerCheck at . Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA’s Disciplinary Actions Online database. Investors can also call FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors at (844) 57-HELPS to speak with a recorded message that will perhaps provide  assistance or to raise concerns about issues they have with their brokerage accounts and investments.

FINRA also administers the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. Most of the time, decisions are handed down in favor of broker-dealers as opposed to customers.For more information, please visit

Citigroup Bagged By SEC For Defrauding Muni Investors

citigroup fraud muni picks up where leaves off in reporting an outsized fined against big bank broker-dealer Citigroup…

WASHINGTON – Two Citigroup companies on Monday agreed to pay $180 million to settle charges they defrauded investors by misrepresenting that investments in two now-defunct muni-related hedge funds were safe, low-risk and suitable for traditional bond investors.

New York-based Citigroup Global Markets and Citigroup Alternative Investments raised almost $3 billion in capital from about 4,000 investors between 2002 and 2007 through the two funds — ASTA/MAT and Falcon – before they collapsed in 2008 during the financial crisis, resulting in billions of dollars of losses, according to the SEC. maintains the world’s largest database of registered broker-dealers with information extending across more than 30 countries

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, CAI, the investment manager for the two hedge funds, and CGMI, which employed the financial advisors that recommended the funds to investors, agreed to disgorge more than $139. 95 million of ill-gotten gains and pay prejudgment interest of more than $39.61 million to the SEC under the settlement.

Danielle Romero, managing director of global public affairs for Citigroup, said the company is “pleased to have resolved this matter.”

The SEC found the two Citigroup affiliates continued accepting additional investments and assuring investors of the funds’ safety even as they started to decline in late 2007. The “misleading representations” the Citigroup companies made were “at odds with disclosures made in marketing documents and written material provided to investors,” the SEC said in a release.

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