Washington, DC — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has permanently barred Kirkland, WA, broker Rhonda Lee Breard from the securities industry for defrauding at least 38 clients of at least $8 million through a scheme that involved converting client funds to her personal use while sending falsified account statements to her customers.
"FINRA will continue to use its resources and authority to swiftly remove bad brokers from the securities industry, especially those who steal from their clients," said James S. Shorris, FINRA Executive Vice President and Executive Director of Enforcement.
As part of the scheme – which she carried out from at least 2006 until February 2010 – Breard persuaded her clients to liquidate their existing investments for the purpose of purchasing different investments, including mutual funds and annuities. Breard was registered as a broker with ING Financial Partners and also had her own investment advisory firm, Breard & Associates. At her request, the clients made checks payable to her investment advisory firm. She deposited those checks in a bank account that she controlled and, instead of purchasing other investments for her clients, she diverted their funds to her personal use.
To conceal her misconduct, Breard prepared and sent to the clients false account statements purporting to be from her firm, another firm and an insurance company. Those statements falsely indicated that the clients owned securities and other investments.
In concluding this settlement, Breard neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
Breard is facing criminal charges for the same misconduct in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Federal authorities there are attempting to identify Breard's assets in order to recover funds for the affected clients.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2009, members of the public used this service to conduct 18.5 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business - from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing and enforcing rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.finra.org.