Actions of Former Ferris, Baker Watts, Inc. General Counsel Accused of Supervising Rogue Broker to be Reviewed by SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission will be taking a closer look at the actions of ex- Ferris, Baker Watts, Inc. General Counsel Theodore Urban. Urban has been accused of failing to reasonably supervise stockbroker Stephen Glantz, who was involved a stock market manipulating scam with Innotrac Corp. stock.

It is rare for the SEC to examine the actions of a general counsel. However, the agency says it is looking at the case because the proceedings bring up key “legal and policy issues,” such as whether Urban acted reasonably in the manner that he oversaw Glantz and chose to respond to signs of broker misconduct. The case also brings up the questions of whether securities professionals such as Urban should be made to “report up” and if his status as a lawyer and his role as “FWB’s general counsel affect is liability for supervisory failure.”

Earlier this year, Securities & Exchange Commission Administrative Law Judge Brenda Murray ruled that Urban did not inadequately supervise Glantz and that the proceedings against him be dropped. Murray said that per the 1934 Securities Exchange Act, a person cannot be held liable for supervisory deficiencies if appropriate procedures for detecting and stopping the violations were applied, She said that Urban had no reasonable grounds to think that procedures had not been followed.

However, Murray’s decision isn’t final until the SEC enters its final order, and on Tuesday the commission declined Urban’s motion requesting that the SEC affirm Murray’s ruling. Division lawyers have said that Murray’s decision was not consistent with previous SEC precedent, lowers the standards that supervisors at dealers, brokers, and investment advisers must meet, and did not protect the investing public by making Urban accountable to sanctions.

SEC to Review Actions of Bank General Counsel Who Supervised Rogue Broker, Law.com, December 9, 2010

Read the SEC order denying motion for summary affirmance (PDF)

Read the administrative law judge’s ruling (PDF)

Ex-Ferris, Baker Watts, Inc. General Counsel Did Not Fail to Properly Supervise Broker Fraudster, Says SEC Judge, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, September 30, 2010

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