Second financial adviser identified as part of college admissions scandal

Morgan Stanley terminated Michael Wu in March after he did not cooperate with the firm's investigation

May 2, 2019 @ 1:59 pm

By Bruce Kelly

The widening college admissions scandal has ensnared its second financial adviser with the revelation that Morgan Stanley fired a Southern California adviser for not cooperating with an internal investigation.

The Morgan Stanley broker, Michael Wu, was "terminated for not cooperating with an internal investigation into the college admissions matter," according to a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman. "We are cooperating with the authorities."

Mr. Wu is at least the second financial adviser to be linked to the scandal, in which wealthy families paid $25 million in bribes to get their children into elite colleges.

The scandal came to the fore in March after federal prosecutors filed an indictment alleging a criminal conspiracy that involved funneling cash to a consultant who, in turn, sought to influence admissions at schools such as Stanford, Yale and the University of Southern California.

Qui Xue Yang, a financial adviser working at a unit of Oppenheimer & Co. in Los Angeles, was identified by The Wall Street Journal earlier this week as having helped facilitate a $1.2 million payment by a Chinese family to a college counselor at the center of the college admissions cheating scandal.

According to a report in Wednesday's New York Times, a family who lives in Beijing paid Rick Singer, the college consultant at the center of the scheme, $6.5 million — far more than any of the parents named in the case — to get their child into Stanford in 2017. Neither she nor her parents, who live in Beijing, have been charged, and it is unclear whether they are currently being investigated.

The student's family was introduced to the college consultant, Mr. Singer, by Mr. Wu, the former Morgan Stanley adviser based in Pasadena, according to the Times' report.

Mr. Wu, who could not be reached for comment, has not been charged in the matter. He had 16 years of experience in the brokerage industry and started working at Morgan Stanley in 2015 after more than a decade at Merrill Lynch, according to this BrokerCheck report.

According to an industry source with knowledge of the matter, Morgan Stanley advisers worked with Mr. Singer until 2015, when his relationship with the bank ended. However, his relationship with individual advisers appears to have continued.

The firm "did not know about this side of Singer," the source said. "He had legitimate businesses."

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