Court: Wells Fargo’s Lawyer Rigged Complaint Process
In an alarming decision, the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia recently found that Wells Fargo Advisors engaged in a scheme to “manipulate” and “secretly redline the neutral list” of FINRA arbitrators that are used to resolve Wells Fargo Advisor Complaints. The case number is Civil Action File No. 2019CV328949. A copy of the decision can be found by clicking here.
Court Details “Secret” Deal with FINRA
The decision, published on January 25, 2022, should be disturbing to the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as all members of Congress. It can best be summarized by Judge Belinda Edwards’ factual conclusion: “The Court’s factual review of the record evidence leads to its finding that Wells Fargo and its counsel manipulated the FINRA arbitrator selection process in violation of the FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure, denying the Investors’ their contractual right to a neutral, computer-generated list of potential arbitrators. Wells Fargo and its counsel, Terry Weiss, admit that FINRA provides any client Terry Weiss represents with a subset of arbitrators in which certain arbitrators (at least three, but perhaps more) are removed from the list Wells Fargo agreed, by contract, to provide to the Investors in the event of a dispute. Permitting one lawyer to secretly red line the neutral list makes the list anything but neutral, and calls into question the entire fairness of the arbitral forum.”
The court’s conclusions truly call into question the entire fairness of the forum. Judge Edwards also found that, “The only reason this secret agreement came to light was because FINRA accidentally included one of the three Postell arbitrators, Fred Pinckney, on the neutral computer-generated List.” It is unclear if the court’s decision impacts other Wells Fargo Advisor Complaints, including those that were decided by FINRA panels.
Investors are Forced to Arbitrate all Wells Fargo Advisor Complaints
Wells Fargo complaints all need to be submitted to arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. Since investors are forced into arbitration, it is vital that the complaint process be transparent and fair. The factual conclusions in this case beg the obvious question – how many other “secret” deals are there with different industry lawyers? The answer, and wider reaching implications, could be disturbing.
Where is the SEC and Congress?
The factual findings made by the court must be investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as Congress. Both bodies have oversight control over FINRA. Inquiries into both FINRA and Wells Fargo advisors should be opened to ensure the integrity of forced investor arbitration.
Do you Have a Complaint Against Wells Fargo Advisors?
MDF Law is actively investigating investor complaints against Wells Fargo Advisors. If you or someone you know lose money investing, please contact our law firm for a free and confidential consultaiton.