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Kerry Wills: First Western Broker Suspended Over Customer Loan

Manhattan Beach broker Kerry Wills (CRD# 1353739) has been sanctioned by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in connection to allegations he improperly took a loan from a customer. A representative of First Western Securities, Wills was issued a six-month suspension and a fine of $10,000.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2017056557101) dated January 2020, Kerry Wills became associated with First Western Securities as a General Securities Representative in November 2009. In May 2012, FINRA states, he borrowed a sum of $150,000 from a customer for the purposes of covering litigation expenses. The customer had become his client more than three decades prior when Wills helped the customer through probate proceedings following the death of her spouse, according to FINRA, and they subsequently “developed a close relationship,” in which he provided her with “personal care… over the last several years of her life,” such as taking care of healthcare matters and her properties. At the time he took the loan from her, he was the broker of record on her accounts at First Western, FINRA states; they memorialized the loan with a promissory note which stipulated a term of ten years and an interest rate of two percent. He allegedly did not disclose the loan to his firm or seek its exemption from internal rules forbidding representatives from accepting loans from customers. FIINRA’s findings state that he made one annual payment on the loan, which the customer did not cash, and then she “passed away six months later, leaving a trust document that provided for loan forgiveness.” FINRA states that the loan violated FINRA Rules 3240 and 2010.

FINRA’s findings state additionally that in 2013 and 2014, Kerry Wills accepted gifts from the same customer of about $19,500 in travel expenses, when she “paid for the airfare and tickets for three international cruises,” on which he accompanied her, “providing personal care and assistance with travel logistics.” He allegedly did not disclose the trips to his firm, nor report them on its Gifts and Gratuities log. FINRA concludes that these undisclosed gifts constituted violations of FINR Rule 2010. As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, Wills was suspended for six months from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $10,000.

Kerry Wills has been registered with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Citigroup Global Markets, and Dean Witter Reynolds. He has passed five securities industry qualifying examinations and his BrokerCheck report lists zero state securities licenses. (Information current as of May 21, 2020.)

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