End of the line for Tommy Belesis' embattled brokerage

John Thomas Financial pulls its registration with Finra; downfall months in the making

Jul 10, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

By Bruce Kelly

A little bit of Wall Street's swagger died this week as the long-beleaguered John Thomas Financial ended its registration as a securities broker-dealer.

John Thomas, owned by the colorful Anastasios “Tommy” Belesis, on Monday filed termination requests with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., The NASDAQ Stock Market Inc., 35 states and Puerto Rico.

The New York Post first reported the news of John Thomas ending its broker-dealer registration.

Mr. Belesis, who had a bit part in Oliver Stone's “Wall Street” movie sequel, ran a shop of hard charging, youthful brokers who stood at their desks and cold-called clients, reminiscent of the go-go 1990s. At its peak, the firm had 200 independent representatives.

The end of John Thomas has been months in the making and was far from unexpected. Last month, the independent broker-dealer's clearing firm, Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., notified John Thomas clients that the brokerage was ceasing business because of a lack of funds. Typically, a net-capital violation marks the death knell for a small to midsize broker-dealer.

Officials from John Thomas today could not be reached to comment.

John Thomas recently has struggled. According to a Finra complaint filed in April, Mr. Belesis bullied brokers and lied to senior staff members as part of a plan to pocket more than $1 million in profit off penny stock trades. Finra also claims that trades in one penny stock benefited John Thomas while hurting its clients.

The SEC in March charged that Mr. Belesis and a Houston-based hedge fund manager worked in cahoots to defraud investors.

According to his BrokerCheck record, Mr. Belesis has yet to respond to either complaint.

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