FINRA Expungement Proceedings

SYK attorney Darlene Pasieczny Presents on FINRA Expungement Proceedings at PIABA’s Mid-Year Meeting.

On April 4, 2019, I joined co-panelist Kate McGrail and moderator Robert J. Girard II in Washington D.C. Together, we presented on FINRA expungement proceedings to an audience of securities attorneys, law professors, and state securities regulators attending PIABA’s Mid-Year Meeting.

Our main topics included:

  • The process for brokers to request expungement of customer dispute information from a broker’s CRD record.
  • The process for customer claimants to object to the request.
  • Proposed rule changes being considered by FINRA.

Current FINRA Rule 2080 of the Code of Arbitration Procedure for Customer Disputes provides the narrow grounds for expungement requests. FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-42 describes the potential changes including:

  • Limiting the time in which brokers may request expungement.
  • Creation of an Expungement Arbitrator Roster, with enhanced arbitrator qualification requirements, to hear expungement requests.
  • Requiring an additional finding that the customer dispute information has no investor protection or regulatory value.

The CRD is the Central Registration Depository, an online licensing and registration system for brokers and securities firms. Pursuant to FINRA rules, certain disclosure information must be reported for inclusion in the CRD record. This includes customer disputes – customer complaints, arbitrations and court actions.

Expungement of customer dispute information from a broker’s CRD record also means that the information is no longer publicly available through FINRA’s free online BrokerCheck. Because FINRA is clear that expungement is an “extraordinary remedy.”

That is in part because BrokerCheck is considered a major tool for investors to research the background of a financial professional. Wouldn’t you want to know if the person you are going to trust with your savings has a record of multiple customer complaints? Brokerage firms and state and federal securities regulatory agencies also use the CRD record when making hiring and licensing decisions, as well as in enforcement actions.

Darlene Pasieczny’s practice at Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP focuses on all stages of corporate and securities law issues, securities litigation and FINRA arbitration, as well as fiduciary litigation in trust and estate disputes, and elder financial abuse.

Securities Attorney Darlene Pasieczny to Speak on FINRA Expungement Issues in Washington DC

Securities attorney Darlene Pasieczny will speak about FINRA expungement issues at the PIABA Mid-Year Meeting: Current Issues in Securities Arbitration. The panel presentation will be on April 4, 2019, in Washington DC.

Presentation topics to include:

Expungement of customer dispute information from a broker’s or brokerage firm’s CRD and Bro­kerCheck disclosure reports continues to be a heated topic for securities professionals. Expungement requests are routinely made in customer cases, sometimes years after settlement. Despite FINRA’s position that expungement of customer infor­mation should be an “extraordinary remedy,” panels routinely grant expungement requests in FINRA arbitration. This panel will discuss current trends in expungement requests and litigation tactics by attorneys and non-attorney firms, as well as re­cent FINRA expanded guidance to arbitrators and proposed amendments to applicable FINRA rules.  We will also discuss ethical considerations for lawyers regarding expungement.

Registration for the PIABA Mid-Year meeting can be done through PIABA’s website.

Why is FINRA expungement an important topic?

When an investor considers hiring a new financial advisor, they might look for publicly available information about the advisor’s background and customer complaints. FINRA’s BrokerCheck database is available online for exactly that kind of investor research. By current FINRA rules, a broker or brokerage firm must disclose certain customer dispute information on their CRD record. If FINRA grants expungement of that information, the disclosure is effectively wiped clean. That may be appropriate in some circumstances. But expungement can harm the investing public, who might otherwise think twice about hiring a broker with a negative track record.

Darlene Pasieczny’sSecurities Attorney Darlene Pasieczny practice at Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP focuses on all stages of corporate and securities law issues, securities litigation and FINRA arbitration, fiduciary litigation in trust and estate disputes, elder financial abuse, and complex civil litigation. Darlene’s practice includes representing investors nationwide in investment disputes through FINRA arbitration.