The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority today charged the president and owner of a Brooklyn, N.Y., brokerage firm with defrauding three customers of more than $4 million.
Roman Sledziejowski, a Polish-born investment manager and owner of TWS Financial LLC, catered to the Polish investment community in Brooklyn, and all of his victims were natives of Poland. TWS Financial on Nov. 9 filed an application to withdraw its broker-dealer registration.
Finra officials claim that the scam involved converting client funds to his personal use while providing falsified account statements to his customers.
In its complaint, Finra alleges that between June 2009 and August 2012, Sledziejowski instructed customers to wire funds from their bank accounts or brokerage accounts to Innovest Holdings LLC, a company wholly owned and controlled by Sledziejowski 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, Finra claims that 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.
When some 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, individuals and firms named in a complaint can file a response and request a hearing before a Finra disciplinary panel. Possible sanctions against Sledziejowski include a fine, an order to pay restitution, censure, suspension or bar from the securities industry.