BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA, April 17,2006 /PRNewswire/ – The following was released today by Aidikoff, Uhl & Bakhtiari:
An NASD arbitration panel found A. G. Edward & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: AGE), liable for $339,974 for failure to properly supervise Redlands, CA area broker Ted Mendoza. On Thursday, April 13, 2006, the NASD panel awarded $142,839 in compensatory damages, $100,000 in punitive damages, and $97,135 in attorneys fees to retired Indio, CA resident Dolores White. Mrs. White’s law firm is Aidikoff, Uhl & Bakhtiari, a Beverly Hills and Indian Wells, California firm that represents individuals in disputes with the securities industry.
In 1999, Mrs. White, a widow, was referred to Mr. Mendoza for help investing to supplement her Social Security. At that time she told the broker that she was a conservative person who could not afford to risk her life savings. Instead of recommending suitable investments, Mendoza purchased a Variable Annuity with more than 90% of her nest egg. Variable Annuities have been the subject numerous regulatory actions due to the abusive sales practices which target elderly investors.
At the hearing, expert witness Craig McCann from Fairfax, Virginia, testified that “never in the field of financial products has so much been sold to so many when suitable for so few.” Dr. McCann detailed how the high costs and complex features of Variable Annuities are rarely understood by most investors.
“Evidence presented at the hearing established that A. G. Edwards, despite knowing that Mrs. White was conservative, approved the broker’s purchase of risky mutual funds within the Variable Annuity sub accounts. The sale of this product produces high commissions and that is what often drives the train,” said Philip M. Aidikoff, who tried the case.
“In their award of punitive damages, the panel sent a clear message that brokerage firms have a strict obligation to monitor and control the activities of their brokers and the failure to do so will have serious repercussions, both legally and financially,” Mr. Aidikoff added.