Brokerage owner defrauded fellow Poles: Finra

More than $4 million wired out of three clients' accounts, regulator says

Nov 28, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

By Liz Skinner

A Polish brokerage owner in Brooklyn, N.Y., defrauded three Polish customers of more than $4 million by taking money out of their accounts in some cases, and in others, directing them to transfer funds that he said would be invested in a Polish vodka company, industry regulators said.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. said Roman Sledziejowski, president and owner of TWS Financial LLC, used customer funds for his own use and gave false statements to clients from June 2009 through August 2012. About $3 million in investor funds is unaccounted for, the brokerage industry self-regulator said on Wednesday.

Mr. Sledziejowski also refused to testify about these transactions and otherwise cooperate with Finra, it said. A message left for him at TWS Financial wasn't returned. His attorney, Robert Knuts of Park & Jensen LLP in New York, didn't return a call requesting a comment.

In total, $4.8 million was wired from the accounts of three TWS customers who were Polish nationals, including the head of a Brooklyn company that imports produce, liquor and deli products, and a United Nations elected official who works for the Polish Consulate, the Finra complaint said.

Mr. Sledziejowski told one client that his funds were being put into a Polish bank and the stock of a Polish vodka maker, but no such investments were made, according to the complaint. The other two customers said they didn't authorize the wire transfers that he made from their accounts to Innovest Holdings LLC, which he controlled.

“In order to mask his misconduct, Sledziejowski provided customers with falsified account statements or 'account snapshots,' which were fictional accounts of their holdings in their TWS brokerage accounts or the values of those accounts,” Finra said.

Possible sanctions include paying fines and restitution and being barred from the brokerage industry. Mr. Sledziejowski was previously registered with Wachovia Securities LLC, Prudential Securities Inc. and Salomon Smith Barney Inc., according to his BrokerCheck record.

TWS Financial filed to withdraw its broker-dealer registration on Nov. 9, Finra said.

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