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FINRA Suspends Flint Advisor Gary Forrest: Woodbridge Notes

A disciplinary action taken by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against former Flint, Michigan broker and investment advisor Gary Forrest (CRD# 1313782) suspended him over allegations he participated in unapproved private securities transactions involving Woodbridge Group of Companies promissory notes. A former representative of American Portfolios Financial Services, Forrest was fined $5,000 and suspended from acting as a broker for 10 months as a result of these findings.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (No. 2018059400801) dated April 2019, solicited investors to buy promissory notes associated with a “purported real estate scheme,” the Woodbridge Group of Companies. in total, according to FINRA, he sold $826,986 in the entity’s notes to 13 American Portfolios Investor Services customers and two other investors. For these sales he received commissions of $25,905, according to FINRA, which also notes that the firm’s procedures required its representatives to seek and obtain firm approval before participating in private securities transactions, including those involving the offer and sale of promissory notes. FINRA’s findings go on to say that Gary Forrest sought his firm’s permission to sell the notes, but American Portfolios Financial Services refused to grant him approval, in spite of which he sold the notes.

According to FINRA, final judgments were issued against Woodbridge and its former owner by a US federal court on December 27, 2018. These judgments ordered Woodbridge and its former owner to pay disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and also ordered the former owner to pay a civil penalty

As for the allegations involving Gary Forrest’s sales, FINRA found that they violated two FINRA rules. One such rule was FINRA Rule 3280, which states that associated persons must notify their firms before participating in an private securities transactions for which they have received or may receive selling compensation. The other rule was FINRA Rule 2010, which requires associated persons “to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.” As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, Gary Forrest was suspended from association with any FINRA member firm in all capacities for 10 months. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 as well as disgorgement of all commissions, plus interest.

Gary Forrest is not currently registered as a broker or investment advisor. His employment history includes American Portfolios Financial Services in Flint, Michigan, Raymond James & Associates, and Roney & Company. He currently holds no state registrations and has passed four securities industry qualification examinations.

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