FINRA Files Complaint Charging the President and Owner of Brooklyn Brokerage Firm TWS Financial for Operating Fraudulent Scheme Targeting Polish Community
WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has filed a complaint against Roman Sledziejowski, President and owner of Brooklyn, NY-based brokerage firm TWS Financial, LLC, charging him with defrauding three customers of more than $4 million through a scheme, carried on primarily outside the securities firm, involving converting client funds to his personal use while providing falsified account statements to his customers. Sledziejowski, a Polish-born investment manager, and his firm TWS Financial, catered to the Polish investment community in Brooklyn, and all of his victims were natives of Poland. On November 9, 2012, TWS Financial filed an application to withdraw its broker-dealer registration.
In its complaint, FINRA alleges that between June 2009 and August 2012, as part of his scheme, Sledziejowski instructed the customers to wire funds from their bank accounts or brokerage accounts to Innovest Holdings LLC, a company wholly owned and controlled by Sledziejowski, separate from the broker-dealer, which, in turn, owned TWS, for various purported investment purposes, including acquiring a Polish bank and buying stock in a vodka company. In other instances, Sledziejowski wired funds directly from the customers' TWS brokerage accounts to Innovest Holdings without their knowledge or consent. In order to mask his misconduct, Sledziejowski provided customers with falsified account statements or "account snapshots," which were fictional accounts of their holdings in their TWS brokerage accounts or the values of those accounts. Additionally, when some of his customers raised questions about the value of their brokerage accounts or sought to withdraw funds from their accounts, Sledziejowski wired funds from Innovest's bank accounts back to their bank or brokerage accounts. To date, more than $3 million of the customers' funds remain unaccounted for. Sledziejowski also refused to comply with FINRA's request to appear for testimony to answer questions related to the misconduct in question.
Under FINRA rules, the individuals and firms named in a complaint can file a response and request a hearing before a FINRA disciplinary panel. Possible sanctions include a fine, an order to pay restitution, censure, suspension or bar from the securities industry. The issuance of a disciplinary complaint represents FINRA's initiation of a formal proceeding, in which findings as to the allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint.
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 2011, members of the public used this service to conduct about 14.2 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA's Disciplinary Actions Online database.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent 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 complimentary 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 rules, enforcing those 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 firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.