The longest running arbitration case in the past two decades has finally been ruled on after five years. After a 95-day hearing, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel awarded the Claimants $16.6 million based upon evidence that BNP Paribas Securities Corp. unsuitably concentrated their savings in leveraged option securities. Claimants alleged that the company's own policies prohibited the sale of leveraged options securities to U.S. customers. The $16.6 million included restitution, damages, and attorneys' fees.
Earlier this month, an Oklahoma court ordered a new arbitration hearing for an investor's claims against Geary Securities Inc. Steven Admire argued that the arbitration panel failed to provide him with an adequate award of damages. Mr. Admire claimed a total of $1.6 million in damages and the panel only awarded him $9,900. Mr. Admire and his attorney do not want to go back through the arbitration process, instead they want the claims resolved through the court system.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that the number of first quarter filings has increased from last year. According to FINRA, 1,011 cases were filed in this year's first quarter compared to last year's first quarter which was only 919 cases. Some believe the heavier case load to be attributed to the Puerto Rico municipal bond collapse. To help prepare for the increase, FINRA has increased its pool of arbitrators. As of right now there are about 6,375 arbitrators, which is broken down between public (3,547) and non-public (2,828). Most cases are heard by a three person all-public panel.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has proposed a new rule in which arbitrators can refer a case for disciplinary action before it's over. Currently, arbitrators have to wait until a case is completely closed to report concerns to FINRA's Department of Enforcement. FINRA believes that arbitrators should take action as quickly as possible so the Department of Enforcement can uncover any threats to investors. FINRA is also concerned about evidence collection- they want to be able to collect all the evidence to prove or disprove the allegations of wrongdoing before it could possibly disappear.