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Barry Block: Former World Equity Group Advisor Suspended Over Annuity Allegations

A disciplinary action taken by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against former Arlington Heights, Illinois broker and investment advisor Barry Block (CRD# 1042376) suspended him over allegations he misrepresented expenses connected to variable annuity transactions. A former representative of World Equity Group, Block was fined $15,000 and suspended for three months.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2017052426602) dated February 2019, Barry Block negligently misrepresented certain information concerning recommendations of variable annuity exchange transactions to five customers between January and March 2017. Specifically, according to FINRA, he “misstated the fees associated with the new variable annuity, and/or the fees associated with the surrendered variable annuity” in disclosure documents given to the customers in question. FINRA’s findings state that his assistant completed sections of the disclosure forms before Block held in-person meetings with the customers; however, according to FINRA, some of the pre-filed sections included “inaccurate information” concerning various fees associated with the products. FINRA states that Block or his assistant wrote the fees by hand on the forms during the in-person meetings, but some of this information was “inaccurate.” FINRA’s findings go on to state that he did not verify the pre-filled information or the handwritten information, and further that he “did not notice the inaccuracies and internal inconsistencies of the fee information.” The forms in question included sections that required him to “explain the rationale for the exchange transactions,” according to FINRA, but he noted in the forms that “the new policy was less expensive, when in fact the new policy was more expensive.”

According to FINRA, in four of the exchanges in question, World Equity Group’s principal made note of “errors or ambiguities” contained in the disclosure forms and gave them back to Barry Block. FINRA states that he or his assistant “whited-out the information identified by [the principal] and wrote new information over the whited-out sections.” Although the new information was more accurate, FINRA goes on to state, he did not give the forms back to the customers for approval or “otherwise inform the customers of the changes.” FINRA states that he also did not maintain the original documents or copies of them. The customers in question were notified of the errors in the relevant transactions’ paperwork about a year after their approval, according to FINRA’s findings, and did not complaint to the firm or suffer harm from the transactions. FINRA found that the foregoing activity by Block constituted violations of FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010. He was suspended from associating with FINRA member firms in any and all capacities for three months, and was ordered to pay a fine of $15,000.

Barry Block is not currently registered as a broker or investment advisor. His employment history includes World Equity Group in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Ausdal Financial Partners, Waterstone Financial Group, and Dreher & Associates. He currently holds no state licenses and has passed five securities industry qualification examinations.

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