Long before Bernie Madoff made news, there was financial advisor Raymond Londo. In March 2008, Ray Londo was fired from Linsco Private Ledger (now known as LPL Financial, or LPL for short) for failing to follow company policies on lending or borrowing funds from clients. Before his termination, however, Londo allegedly operated a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that entailed converting millions of dollars of clients’ assets.
As with Madoff, Londo’s victims reportedly included neighbors, country club associates and family members. Today, Londo and LPL are at the center of ongoing investigations connected to the alleged fraud, as well as numerous arbitration claims filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) by investors who suffered financial losses.
LPL’s role in the alleged actions focuses on the fact that LPL ignored repeated warning signs concerning Londo and that it failed to properly supervise his actions during his employment with LPL. It was only after Londo had defrauded dozens of clients, bilking millions of dollars from their accounts, that LPL terminated Londo’s employment.
This isn’t the first time LPL has been accused of failing to supervise its brokers. In 2002, FINRA announced a $500,000-plus award (Case Number: 01-05344) in favor of an investor who claimed the company failed to supervise one of its independent brokers, which ultimately caused the claimant to suffer substantial financial losses.
In 2008, LPL Financial and a former broker lost another arbitration claim – this one totaling $1.8 million. The claim alleged that LPL and a former broker, Michael McClellan, violated state and federal securities laws, committed fraud, breached fiduciary duties and made unauthorized trades, among other violations.
As reported July 3, 2009, in the Wall Street Journal, LPL was formed in 1989 through the merger of Linsco Financial Group Inc. and Private Ledger Financial Services Inc. Since then, LPL has experienced explosive growth. It is now the fifth-largest brokerage firm in the United States, with 12,294 financial advisors. The company has headquarters in Boston and San Diego.
One of the key attractions of companies like LPL Financial may have to do with money: Brokers at LPL get to keep 80% to 95% of commissions on their trades, compared with 40% or less at bigger brokerage firms, according to the Wall Street Journal article.