Finra Suspends Former Merrill Representative Seeking A Coronavirus Treatment Loan For Ersatz Business

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Jul 30, 2021

The financial industry regulator has announced a seven-month suspension from the former registered representative of Merrill Lynch as it continues to harass brokers who it believes were incorrectly requesting loans to help with the pandemic.

Evelyn Batista, who has been incorporated for less than one year with Thundering Herd in Montvale, NJ, applied in July 2020 for an Economic Damage Disaster Loan of $ 17,500 through the Small Business Administration based on not yet the real estate management business that existed at the time. , according to the Finra letter.

The letter says Batista “recklessly misrepresented” that she owned a property management business since December 2018 that made $ 35,000 in the 12 months to January 31, 2020 but lost $ 15,000 due to the pandemic. According to Finra, she received the entire requested amount within a month after submitting the application.

The regulator, as in other similar cases this year, found that Batista had violated his 2010 Oversized Rule, which requires representatives to “maintain high standards” and prohibit “any unethical business-related wrongdoing, regardless of whether whether they are related to a security or securities ”. According to the Finra letter.

Batista, who signed Finra’s letter without accepting or denying the findings, did not respond to a request for comment posted via social media. Merrill Lynch spokesman declined to comment

Finra did not impose a fine because, she said, Batista’s financial statements showed him to be insolvent. She has not been registered with Finra since October 2020, when she was fired by Merrill on the same charges.

Batista paid back the loan with interest after she was fired from Merrill, the settlement letter said.

Finra said that Batista had planned to rent a room in her home through an online vacation rental service, but she did not list it until January 31, 2020, despite her claim on a loan application.

“Before applying, Batista did not check the disaster injury loan program requirements to determine if she was eligible to participate,” Finra wrote. “Indeed, Batista authorized a random acquaintance she met at the party to fill out an application on her behalf from his mobile phone, using the information she gave him.”

Finra launched an investigation into Batista’s loan after Merrill Lynch fired her and filed Form U5. The regulatory investigation against Batista was not part of the verification of registered representatives, first revealed in January, who applied for the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program or other Covid assistance programs, said a person familiar with the investigation.

In July Finra fined and suspended a former Wells Fargo Advisors broker who allegedly tried to get a loan through the EIDL program. Kenrick Sexton, who was a broker at Wells in Charlotte, North Carolina for six years, agreed to a $ 2,500 fine and a one-month suspension after Finra stated that he “inadvertently misrepresented” that he was running his own business. an Internet merchant account as an individual entrepreneur and received a $ 1,000 advance through EIDL.

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