A Finra arbitration panel hit an adviser with an order to pay $331,000 in compensatory damages after finding him liable of unsuitable trading.
Frederick Baerenz, president and chief executive of AOG Wealth Management, allegedly misled his customers, Barbara and Roger Bond, about the risks of their direct private placements while investing in them from 2006 to 2008.
Out of the $1.3 million invested, Mr. Baerenz put about $941,000 in private placements, according to the lawyer representing the Bond couple, Todd Zuckerbrod.
“Even though the clients had signed a form saying that they know they are getting a high-risk investment, the panel thought it did not insulate the broker that they were unsuitable investments and he shouldn't have done that,” he said.
Mr. Baerenz, whose firm is based in Great Falls, Va., disagreed.
"While we believe that there should have been no award, we are gratified that the panel rejected two-thirds of their damage claims,” he wrote in an email.
The claimants asked for about $1 million in damages but were awarded $331,000, and any other relief including punitive damages were denied.
Mr. Baerenz also said through his lawyer, Barry Temkin, that the total amount invested was $1.5 million, not $1.3 million.
The complaint was filed early last year, and since then Mr. Baerenz has tried to dismiss the motion twice, according to the award letter. He also requested to expunge this case from his record without any success.
According to BrokerCheck, at the time of the charges, Mr. Baerenz was affiliated with Pacific West Securities, which closed in 2012.