Edward Jones hit with $2.7 million fine

Edward Jones has been hit with a fine of $2.7 million by the NASD, which ruled in an arbitration hearing that one of the firm’s brokers overloaded a client’s account with unsuitable investments on margin. William and Jean Torrence, clients of Edward Jones, said their joint account had $1.7 million as of the beginning of 2000, but said within three months the account, which was 88 percent invested

Edward Jones has been hit with a fine of $2.7 million by the NASD, which ruled in an arbitration hearing that one of the firm’s brokers overloaded a client’s account with unsuitable investments on margin. William and Jean Torrence, clients of Edward Jones, said their joint account had $1.7 million as of the beginning of 2000, but said within three months the account, which was 88 percent invested in mutual funds, had a debit balance of $1.89 million in margin. Much of the decline was the result of concentrated investments in Sycamore Networks, a fiber optics company. The couple claims the broker, Gregory Westray, who has been with the firm for 17 years and had no prior customer complaints, urged them to use margin to buy stock. When the stock dropped, it triggered margin calls. The couple originally asked for nearly $3.2 million in damages and an additional $1.8 million in putative damages, eventually being awarded just under $2.7 million. Jones is considering asking a court to vacate the panel’s decision, but a spokesperson would not comment further.

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