Broker Ricky Alan Mantei Complaints – Compensation & Help

FINRA Panel Concludes Ricky Alan Mantei Engaged in “unethical” Conduct, Resulting in Suspension

On February 18, 2021 a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Extended Hearing Panel issued a Decision sanctioning Ricky Alan Mantei suspending him from associating with any FINRA Member firm in any capacity and fining him. The decision relates to violation of his former firm (JP Turner & Co’s) policies and involves the sale of structured certificates of deposits.  Mantei has reportedly appealed this decision. Mantei owned, managed, and/or operated a branch office in Lexington, South Carolina as well as numerous other offices. Mantei has more recently been employed by Centaurus Financial and operates Cola Wealth Advisors.

Structured CD’s are complex investments that generally pay a fixed interest rate for a specified period of time and afterward pay periodic interest rate detertmined by formulas which are often complex and may be difficult for many retail investors to understand. Furthermore, the FINRA Panel noted that Structured CD’s are not traded on an exchange and can be less liquid.

The FINRA Panel found that in the process of trying to sell a customer’s Structured Certificate of Deposit:

The challenge, as Mantei asked rhetorically, was that “there’s no market in this thing, right?” He therefore asked Palermo if he had “any friends out there” who could buy the Wells Fargo R66 SCD at around his “magic number” of 89.59 If so, Mantei said, he would buy it back a week later at 90. 60 Restating his request, Mantei asked,

“Can I get you to help me find some-damn-body out there . . . that can help get me a high price, 89-90, something like that on this damn paper? And I will buy the back. You can tell them, “Hey, you put it back up on the {BondDesk} next week, Rick’ll buy it from you.” Because I will. And I’ll buy it back for more than they paid for it.”

Mantei also explained to Palermo why he needed to use this maneuver rather than just sell the SCD directly from the customer to another Firm customer—Woll had forbidden him from selling the SCD through a cross trade because it would “look bad if FINRA digs into it” at the next audit. “They come in here and they see the complaint, they see what we did, they see a cross, they see all that. They go, ‘You guys were just priming the market to try to take care of the problem’ . . . which is true,” Mantei admitted

The FINRA Panel ultimately concluded that Mantei “violated the Firm’s policy prohibiting prearranged trading” and “Evaded the Firm’s Cross Trade Procedures.” As a result, the FINRA Panel concluded that Mantei violated the FINRA Rules and “that Mantei’s conduct was unethical. It did not conform to moral norms or standards of professional conduct; it impeded the Firm’s supervision of his trading activities; and it deprived customers of the benefits of the cross trade procedures put in place for their (and the Firm’s) protection. Mantei’s conduct also reflects directly on his ability to abide by his Firm’s policies. Finally, his misconduct casts doubt on his ability to comply with regulatory requirements necessary for the proper functioning of the securities industry and the protection of the public.”

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)’s BrokerCheck reports several disclosure events for Ricky Mantei and Cindy Chiellini of Centaurus Financial Inc. Some of these allegations include the Registered Representatives misrepresenting unsuitable investments and breaching fiduciary duties. 

Mantei has worked for Centaurus Financial Inc. in Lexington, SC and has 38 disclosures attached to his FINRA BrokerCheck profile. Customer disputes filed with FINRA range from customers alleging that Mantei misrepresented unsuitable investments and breached his fiduciary duty to clients alleging that Mantei over-concentrated their portfolio into unsuitable investments.Mantei has been accused of alleged improper investment recommendations in almost every single dispute against him both settled and pending. There are also allegations of “fraudulent activity with respect to the investments” and “[Mantei] failed to adequately supervise the Registered Representative serving the account(s).” Mantei has denied allegations of wronging. 

A dispute dated April 2019 alleges Mantei of being negligent, engaged in potentially fraudulent activity with respect to the investments, and breaching his fiduciary duty over an approximate time period of 2012 through 2017. This dispute alleged damages of $1,000,000.

Another customer dispute filed in May 2019 states that during a period from 2015 through the end of 2017, a customer alleged that Branch Manager (Mantei) failed to adequately supervise the Registered Representative(s) servicing their account(s). This case had alleged damages of $100,000 and settled for $180,000.

Mantei has approximately 11 pending allegations filed against him, ranging from misrepresenting unsuitable investments, breaching his fiduciary duty, failing to supervise Representatives as a Branch Manager, over-concentrating portfolios in unsuitable investments, and more.

Since the first dispute, 25 of the 38 have settled with a combined settlement amount of almost $800,000.

Chiellini also works for Centaurus Financial Inc. she has approximately 40 disclosures on her record with BrokerCheck ranging from 2016 through 2021. Chiellini has been registered with FINRA since working for The Robinson-Humphrey Company in 1984. Many allegations against Chiellini are similar to those made by customers against Mantei.

In Chiellini’s very first customer dispute, Claimants stated that they were sold unsuitable investments from 2010 through 2016. An allegation from March 2019 states that Chiellini processed unauthorized and/or unsuitable trades. Alleged damages totaled $90,000 and the case settled for $65,000.

Beginning in early 2015 through May 2019, Claimants alleged that Chiellini misrepresented and facilitated unsuitable investment. The alleged damages for this incident totaled $100,000 and the case settled for $180,000.

Of the 40 disputes against Chiellini, 28 of them have settled for a combined settlement of approximately over $1 million.

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