Wealth Advisory Services president fined $20,000

By Staff | June 20, 2012 | Last updated on June 20, 2012
3 min read

A settlement hearing in the matter of Douglas A. Lawson was held today in Toronto before a hearing panel of the MFDA’s Central Regional Council.

In the settlement agreement, Lawson admitted he approved, recommended and allowed the sale of Promittere S&P 500 (Promittere) shares, a related company of Wealth Advisory Services, to over 40 clients. He didn’t ensure the product had been researched, and didn’t make sure the product was suitable for sale to clients.

He also provided clients with incomplete and inaccurate information as to the risk level associated with the product.

The agreement also says Lawson:

  • sold shares of Promittere to 9 clients of Wealth Advisory Services in reliance on the accredited investor exemption without obtaining sufficient documentation to enable him to qualify them as accredited investors in accordance with s. 2.3 of Ontario Securities Commission Rule 45-501 and subsequently, s. 2.3 of National Instrument 45-106, prior to selling them shares of Promittere, contrary to MFDA Rule 2.1.1(c);
  • sold shares of Promittere to clients of Wealth Advisory Services in reliance on the closely held issuer exemption when he had not complied with the requirements of such exemption as set out in s. 2.1 of Ontario Securities Commission Rule 45-501, in that he failed to provide any of the clients with a copy of Form 45-501F3 at least 4 days prior to their purchase of shares of Promittere. This contravention engages the jurisdiction of the Hearing Panel to impose a penalty on Lawson pursuant to s. 24.1.1(h) of MFDA By-Law No. 1 and contrary to MFDA Rule 2.1.1(c); and
  • facilitated the sale of shares of Promittere to 48 clients of Wealth Advisory Services without providing clients with written disclosure of the relationship between the company and Promittere at the time of sale. Clients were also unaware of Wealth Advisory Services’ financial interest in the sale of shares of Promittere, thereby giving rise to an actual or potential conflict of interest which Lawson did not ensure was addressed by the exercise of responsible business judgment influenced only by the best interests of the clients, contrary to MFDA Rule 2.1.4.

The panel approved the settlement agreement between MFDA Staff and Lawson, as a consequence of which:

  • He has to pay a fine in the amount of $20,000;
  • shall be permanently prohibited from holding the position of officer, director, compliance officer, ultimate designated person or branch manager of an MFDA member, except with respect to his continuing status as president and CCO of Wealth Advisory Services for the purpose of ensuring the orderly resignation of the company;
  • shall be permanently prohibited from selling any securities pursuant to any exemptions under applicable securities legislation;
  • shall successfully complete the Canadian Securities Course or such other course acceptable to the MFDA within 12 months of the approval of this Settlement Agreement;
  • has paid costs in the amount of $5,000;
  • shall appear and give truthful testimony at a hearing commenced by the MFDA against any person or entity in relation to any of the facts or allegations referred to in this Settlement Agreement, if requested by Staff;
  • shall, in future, comply with all MFDA By-laws, Rules and Policies, and all applicable securities legislation and regulations.

Read the settlement agreement.

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The staff of Advisor.ca have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.