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Kurt Berry: FINRA Suspends Former Vanderbilt Advisor

Johnson City, Tennessee financial advisor Kurt Berry (CRD# 4550773) was recently suspended and fined in connection with allegedly improper oil and gas transactions. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and Securities and Exchange Commission records show that the former Vanderbilt Securities broker is currently registered as an investment advisor with First Advisors National.

A Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (No. 2023080473501) released in June 2024 describes FINRA’s disciplinary action against Mr. Berry. As it describes he “participated in private securities transactions involving four customers” between January 2019 and September 2021, without providing prior written notice to his member firms or receiving their approval. The transactions in question began while he was registered with Regulus Financial Group, according to FINRA, and continued while he was registered with Vanderbilt Securities. They involved customers’ investments of $517,410 “in oil and gas wells through a series of securities offerings.” He received a total of $2,000 in connection with each customer’s investment, for a total of $8,000.

FINRA’s findings note further that in September 2021, the SEC “instituted and simultaneously settled administrative and cease and desist proceedings against two individuals and entities that had issued the oil and gas securities at issue.” The regulator found that the individuals and entities “made material misrepresentations and omissions in connection with the offerings,” and further that they failed to file registration statements for them.

The AWC Letter explains that FINRA Rule 3280 forbids brokers from participating in private securities transactions without providing prior written notice to their member firm, and, in cases where they receive selling compensation, without receiving its prior written approval. Mr. Berry “did not provide written notice to either Regulus Financial Group or Vanderbilt Securities prior to participating in the private securities transactions,” FINRA found. It also found that he “failed to receive written approval from either firm prior to participating in the transactions.” In connection with these findings, FINRA issued Mr. Berry a six-month suspension and a fine of $5,000. It also ordered him to pay disgorgement of $8,000 plus interest.

Mr. Berry’s BrokerCheck report discloses one investor complaint. Filed in 2023, it alleges that as a representative of Regulus Advisors, he represented oil and gas investments as safe and consistent with their objectives, and did not adequately discuss the products’ risks. The pending complaint alleges damages of $473,000.

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kurt Berry holds 21 years of securities industry experience. Based in Johnson City, Tennessee, he has been registered as an investment advisor with First National Advisors since 2022. His past registrations include Vanderbilt Securities, Regal Investment Advisors, Regulus Advisors, MML Investors Services, and Prudential Financial Planning Services. His credentials include the passage of four securities industry qualifying exams: the General Securities Representative Examination, or Series 7; the Securities Industry Essentials Examination, or SIE; the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination, or Series 63; and the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, or Series 65. He is licensed in Tennessee. (Information current as of June 17, 2024.)

Carlson Law represents investors throughout the United States in claims against financial advisors and investment firms. If you or a loved one have suffered investment losses, please call us at 888-976-6111 or complete our contact form for a free and confidential consultation.

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