A former JPMorgan Chase & Co. broker has been barred from the securities industry after admitting that he stole more than $20 million from clients for trading stocks online, paying his bills and gambling on sporting events.
Michael Oppenheim, 50, settled fraud charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in an administrative proceeding on Tuesday after allegedly misappropriating more than $20 million from bank clients.
Earlier this year, Oppenheim plead guilty to criminal embezzlement and securities fraud charges in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and was sentenced to five years in prison. Oppenheim also agreed to forfeit $20,185,225 to settle the criminal charges and to pay restitution to JPMorgan Chase.
While a vice president and private client advisor at JPMorgan Chase, Oppenheim worked with around 500 high-net-worth clients, managing at one point around $90 million. In 2008, he allegedly persuaded at least two customers to withdraw more than $12 million from their accounts on the promise that the funds would be used to buy municipal bonds or municipal bond funds.
The SEC alleges that instead, Oppenheim used the funds to buy himself cashier’s checks, which were deposited into brokerage accounts he controlled. According to the complaint, the money was used to engage in options trading.
Oppenheim allegedly lost most of the money he had misappropriated from clients in his options trades.
According to the criminal complaint against Oppenheim, he continued misappropriating funds from the accounts of 10 of his wealthiest clients from 2008 to 2015, in some cases simply taking their money without permission.
Some of the funds were used to pay a home loan, gambling and trading debts, and credit card bills for items including luxury clothing and travel, according to the criminal complaint.
Oppenheim allegedly covered up his scam by falsifying clients’ account statements to show bonds owned by other customers, and by moving cash from one customer account to another to inflate balances.
The SEC has barred Oppenheim from associating with any broker-dealer, investment advisor, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent or rating organization, as well as any person associated with the issuance or sale of penny stock. Oppenheim’s reapplication for association will be contingent on the payment of any related disgorgement, arbitration award and restitution.