FINRA bars Houston broker and muni advisor from industry

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has fined and barred a Houston-based broker and municipal advisor after finding that she caused her firm to file inaccurate reports.

Robbi Jones, principal at Kipling Jones & Co., received that ruling on appeal from FINRA’s National Adjudicatory Council (NAC) late last month. Jones disputes the ruling, which stems from a complaint originally brought against her in 2017.

“I believe this was an incorrect outcome,” Jones told The Bond Buyer. “I am working with counsel to review and consider all options available so I can resolve this matter in a different way.”

FINRA imposed the $38,000 fine and disqualification from the industry after finding that Jones violated securities laws and FINRA rules by providing false information in Financial and Operational Combined Uniform Single (FOCUS) reports and misleading FINRA investigators looking into the matter.

“Specifically, between April 2014 and February 2016, Jones filed or caused to be filed materially inaccurate FOCUS reports in which she claimed a $70,000 certificate of deposit as an ‘allowable asset’ for the firm, when the CD had been canceled by the bank,” FINRA found. “Rather than noting its cancellation, Jones continued to include the cancelled CD as a current asset in the firm's FOCUS reports, general ledger, and net capital computations, which, in turn, caused KJC's books and records to be inaccurate.”

On top of that, FINRA alleged, Jones misled FINRA examiners by stating that she had never pledged the CD as collateral. She was also not honest in response to FINRA questions about an investigation by the City of Houston into Jones’ alleged misuse of a city credit card, FINRA stated.

Jones’ conduct violated not only FINRA rules but also record- keeping rules under Section 17 of the Exchange Act, FINRA’s review panel decided, affirming the findings of the original hearing panel. The NAC noted that FINRA sanction guidelines are that bars from the industry are standard for failures to provide accurate and complete information in response to FINRA’s requests.

“Jones's provision of false and misleading information to FINRA is egregious and has rendered her unfit to remain in the securities industry,” FINRA found. FINRA noted that Jones showed remorse for her conduct, but did not provide valid reasons for it.

Jones told FINRA she had suffered “serious personal and medical issues that affected her judgment.”

NAC rulings generally represent FINRA’s final decision, unless its Board of Governors chooses to intervene. FINRA decisions are also appealable to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has oversight of FINRA.

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