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El Paso Broker Steve Yellen Suspended, Fined $25,000

Former Ameriprise Financial Services broker/adviser Steve Yellen (CRD# 1281663) has been sanctioned by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over allegations he improperly exercised discretion in his customers’ accounts. Previously registered at the firm’s office in El Paso, Texas, Yellen was issued a yearlong suspension and a fine of $25,000.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2018057175001) dated October 2019, Steve Yellen was registered with Ameriprise Financial Services as a General Securities Representative from February 2016 until January 2018; prior to that, he was registered with Morgan Stanley as a General Securities Representative from 1984 until 2016. Between March 2013 and December 2015, according to FINRA, he “improperly exercised discretion to place 14 trades” in the account of a Morgan Stanley customer from whom he had received implied authority to exercise discretion but not written authority, and whose account the firm had not accepted as discretionary. FINRA states further than during this period, Yellen “falsely completed three annual compliance questionnaires” by denying the possession of any accounts in which he traded on a discretionary basis.

FINRA’s findings state further that between May 2015 and November 2017, Steve Yellen participated in unauthorized trading at two firms. When he was at Morgan Stanley, according to FINRA, he opened a second account for the aforementioned customer without her knowledge or authorization, then later “made an authorized transfer of $30,000 from her original account to the second account and used the funds to execute two unauthorized transfers. FINRA states that the customer did not know about the second account or the transactions, never authorized them, and was reimbursed by Morgan Stanley for the fees incurred in connection with the transactions. When he was registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, according to FINRA, Steve Yellen “continued to engage in unauthorized trading” in which he executed 16 trades in 10 customer accounts “that exceeded the risk levels that the customers had authorized.” FINRA states that although they did not suffer financial harm as a result of these transactions, his conduct “exposed the customers to the risk of substantial loss.”

As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, as well as alleged mis-marking of customer order tickets and misuse of nonpublic personal information regarding his Morgan Stanley customers, Yellen was issued a yearlong suspension and a fine of $25,000.

Steve Yellen is currently not registered with any FINRA member firm. His previous registrations include Ameriprise Financial Services and Morgan Stanley, both in El Paso, Texas. He has passed five securities industry qualifying examinations and currently holds no state securities licenses. (Information current as of April 23, 2020.)

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