Business & Finance

NJ Bureau of Securities Fines Chatham-Based Financial Planner $500,000 for Deceptive Selling of Securities to the Retired

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A financial planning firm that does business on Main Street in Chatham has been fined $500,000 for deceptive selling practices that hurt the elderly Credits: TAP Chatham
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CHATHAM, NJ - The New Jersey Bureau of Securities fined a Chatham-based financial planner $500,000 for "deceptively selling at least $6.1 million in unregistered securities to elderly and retired New Jersey investors."

The Bureau of Securities released the details on Friday, naming Richard Belott of Financial Planning Advisors, LLC, located on Main Street in Chatham, in entering a Summary Penalty and Revocation order against Belott and his company.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs found in part:

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In a Summary Penalty and Revocation Order issued today, Bureau Chief Christopher Gerold found that between 2008 and 2015, Belott and FPA offered and sold at least 24 promissory notes purportedly issued by local diners and a developer. Belott represented to investors that their funds were investments in those businesses.

In reality, instead of receiving promissory notes from the diners or developer, investors received personal promissory notes from the owners of those businesses, who had  undisclosed business relationships with Belott. In at least one instance, the promissory note was issued by Belott.

The promissory notes had a term of one year or more with stated interest rates ranging from 5 percent to 18 percent annually. Interest and principal payments to the promissory note investors were paid from the bank accounts of various entities, including the diners, developer and FPA, Gerold found.

In offering and selling the promissory notes, Belott failed to disclose to investors that: the diners and developer purportedly issuing the promissory notes were clients of his accounting firm, that he had outside business relationships with the owners of the businesses, or that he was a co-owner of some of the diners. Belott also failed to disclose that he received a commission on the sale of certain promissory notes he sold, or that he would use the investors’ funds for his personal benefit.

To read the full Summary Penalty and Revocation order CLICK HERE

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