Wells Fargo “Restructures” Whistleblower And BlackRock Scammed

James Miller,
Contributing Editor & Research Analyst,
Wealth Solutions Report

Plus Clients Who Ghost You, The KPOP Fund, Cryptocurrency Insider Trading And The Fairfield Smoothie Guy

In his 1989 hit song “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” Billy Joel strung together a series of lyrics recalling good, bad, disturbing and yes – just plain bizarre – events starting with the year of his birth, 1948. The chorus told us, “We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world’s been turning.”

The song became a cult classic – still played, rewritten and enjoyed today – because the concept is so broadly applicable: Sometimes good things happen, sometimes you don’t know what to think and sometimes you’re faced with horrifying events or possibilities.

No jail time

In fact, you could take the history of anything and examine it as far back into the past as possible with the same results. That’s about the only thing that gives me comfort today, because the stories we cover below are only “good” because scoundrels went to jail, but even that has its limits in the smoothie world of Fairfield, Connecticut, or if you can’t recover squandered assets or unwind cryptocurrency insider trading.

And for the bizarre stories, you can’t beat the royalty of pop losing their thrones to the royalty of K-pop, getting ghosted by clients or Wells Fargo – yes, it’s them again – allegedly terminating a serial whistleblower.

Like Billy Joel says, “We didn’t start the fire, but when we are gone it will still go on, and on…”

1) K-Pop ETF Aims To Feed Off Of BTS And Blackpink Craze

“Contents Technologies is launching the KPOP and Korean Entertainment ETF (ticker KPOP) on the NYSE Arca Exchange Sept. 1. KPOP is the first fund in the US or Europe to invest in firms benefiting from Korean pop music, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.”

Oh baby oh baby oh!

“In February, BTS was named the global recording artist of the year, beating Taylor Swift and Adele. Meanwhile, the girl group Blackpink, managed by YG Entertainment, became the first musical artists to hit a record 75 million subscriber mark on YouTube in June, overtaking Justin Bieber.”

Once upon a time I though Justin Bieber was the worst scourge civilization could invent, with Taylor Swift running a close second. But baby oh baby oh I was wrong.

K-pop came out of nowhere to upend these stalwart role models and occupy the musical throne. Thanks to K-pop, rhythmless dancing is all the rage again.

If you can’t beat ‘em, invest in ‘em.

To read the full article by Isabelle Lee of Financial Advisor, click here.

2) Dodging ghosts, wooing zombies: A ‘dating’ guide to converting prospects

Is this a client?

“If you haven’t dated in a while, you might not realize that the word ‘ghost’ has taken on a new meaning. Nowadays, it’s a verb meaning to disappear on someone without a goodbye or explanation, a move commonly employed in romantic relationships that have fizzled. Of course, once the world got used to ghosting, a new term appeared. ‘Zombies’ first ghost you, then reappear out of the blue at some point in the future.

“I’d argue that these and other internet-inspired dating terms apply to prospecting new clients, since finding the right person to give you financial advice involves at least as much psychological nuance and delicacy as finding the right spouse.”

In light of my past relationships, the author would do better to talk about Frankenstein, chainsaws and vampires sucking the life blood out of you.

Here’s my prospecting advice: Give up on the “right spouse” analogy and prospect for clients like one of those hook-up apps – swipe right on everybody and you’re bound to get a few clients.

To read the full guest editorial by John Mackowiak of Advyzon in Financial Planning, click here.

3) Infamous stockbroker resolves civil suit stemming from violent tirade – the apparent final chapter in an incident that went viral and forever branded him the ‘Fairfield Smoothie Guy’

“Broker Jim Iannazzo went all out with high-powered attorneys and slick Las Vegas crisis pr team to limit the damage from his actions, but whether he can ever live down the incident remains to be seen.”

“In the wake of his Jan. 22 confrontation with teenaged workers at the shop, Iannazzo lost his long-time job at Merrill Lynch, his Certified Financial Planner credential, and faced three criminal charges and a $300,000 civil suit. 

“But thanks to high-powered local defense lawyers and a Las Vegas crisis public relations firm best known for representing Rush Limbaugh, actor Scott Baio and Brietbart News, his legal problems are behind him.”

After settling a civil suit for $7,500 and being placed on one year’s probation, Iannazzo’s troubles are over. He even got hired again within two months.

What a happy ending!

It’s great to know that Iannazzo has certainly learned his lesson and will never flip out and say racist things – or assault people – again. He changed for the better. What a happy ending!

To read the full article by Keith Girard of RIABiz, click here.

4) Movie Producer Who Scammed BlackRock Out of $30M Gets Jail

“A movie producer who diverted more than $30 million from a BlackRock trust was sentenced to six years in federal prison, according to news reports.

Scammin’ machine!

“In January, William Sadleir pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud connected to his scheme to divert some of the $75 million that the BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust invested in his film production and distribution company, Aviron Group, Bloomberg writes.”

You might think it terrible that a movie producer could do such a thing to poor, defenseless BlackRock, and you’d be right. It’s not hard for due diligence to identify a scoundrel – they’re everywhere – but it’s hard to identify the scoundrel that thinks they can get away with it.

If BlackRock doesn’t recover the money, will investors eat the loss? Don’t lose any sleep over that – it can’t happen to you. Your due diligence on your clients’ investments was thorough. Really. Don’t worry.

To read the full article by Alex Padalka of Financial Advisor IQ, click here.

5) DOL Orders Wells Fargo to Pay $22M Over Whistleblower Retaliation

Serial whistleblower

“The Labor Department on Thursday ordered Wells Fargo to pay $22 million in back wages and compensatory damages for violating whistleblower protection rules by improperly terminating a former senior manager.”

“The San Francisco-based bank was ordered to pay the employee more than $22 million…”

“The senior manager had repeatedly voiced concerns to area managers and the corporate ethics line regarding conduct that violated relevant financial laws, including wire fraud, according to Labor.”

Wells Fargo said Wednesday [Aug. 31] in a statement shared with ThinkAdvisor: “…We intend to appeal to an administrative law judge. Wells Fargo has zero tolerance for acts of retaliation, and employees are encouraged to report concerns which will be promptly and thoroughly investigated.”

Wells Fargo holds the lead for most appearances in this column. After allegations of fake diversity interviews, the undead broker and the fat pig controversy, you’d think Wells Fargo would rest on their laurels for a while.

But why distance yourself from controversy when you can “restructure” out an employee who repeatedly blew the whistle about alleged illegal activities? Good luck proving this was just poor timing.

To read the full article by Melanie Waddell of ThinkAdvisor, click here.

6) Tippee Pleads Guilty In First Ever Cryptocurrency Insider Trading Case

Insider trading comes to crypto-world

“Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today [September 12] that NIKHIL WAHI, the brother of a former product manager at Coinbase Global, Inc. (‘Coinbase’), pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to commit insider trading in cryptocurrency assets by using confidential Coinbase information about which crypto assets were scheduled to be listed on Coinbase’s exchanges.”

“On multiple occasions between July 2021 and May 2022, after getting tips from ISHAN WAHI as to which crypto assets Coinbase was planning to list on its exchanges, NIKHIL WAHI used anonymous Ethereum blockchain wallets to acquire those crypto assets shortly before Coinbase publicly announced that it was listing these crypto assets on its exchanges.”

Jailhouse yacht club

Look out crypto bros! After all the rug pulls, collapses, pump-and-dumps and other nefarious activity in the wild and unregulated world of cryptocurrency, the DOJ steps up and puts at least one dubious character in jail.

Now watch this guy create a series of “jailhouse yacht club” NFTs and get rich, because that’s how things work in the real world.

To learn more, see the press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at ContributingEd@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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