Ex-Merrill Lynch broker fined, suspended for removing client information from office

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2021 | FINRA Compliance

A former broker for Merrill Lynch was the subject of disciplinary action after regulators determined that he had improperly removed customer files in an attempt to take them to another firm.

AdvisorHub reports that Giordan Marc Zaro was suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for one month and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Zaro was terminated by Merrill Lynch in New York in October 2019 for conduct that included sending confidential information to a personal email address and internally transferring client assets. According to FINRA, Zaro returned from a trip one week later unaware he had been expelled.

Upon learning his key card had been deactivated, he allegedly gained access to his office with the help of a co-worker. FINRA said he removed client information from his desk that included account statements and documents with customers’ personal financial information, and put it into a duffel bag.

When Merrill Lynch learned of the missing files, the company demanded their return. According to FINRA, Zaro gave the files to a nonaffiliated third party of the firm to be delivered to the firm in a sealed box. He had also used the personal information he had obtained to contact his former customers, FINRA said.

According to FINRA’s AWC, Zaro’s actions in retaining customer information after he had been terminated caused Merrill to violate the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation S-P concerning privacy. That also caused Zaro to violate FINRA’s ‘catch-all’ Rule 2010 requiring representatives to “observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” 

Lewitas Hyman represents financial professionals, financial institutions and investors in investment loss, employment and disclosure matters, and in regulatory investigations. Contact us by phone at (312) 291-4600 or through our online contact form for a free consultation.

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