Theater Of The Trucking Absurd

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

A Terrorist Broker, A ‘Corporate Raid,’ AI Crypto, NYSE Learns From Southwest Airlines, The Missing Broker Who Stole From A Now Dead Client And A Generous Lotto Winner

Like all the fine people of Arizona, I enjoy a good monster truck rally from time to time. There’s nothing quite so mesmerizing as the sight of a two-story truck that emits more carbon than your favorite politician’s private jet literally leaping over and crushing cars with tractor-sized tires. 

“What’s the attraction?” you ask. Admittedly, when I first moved here my ex-wife and I didn’t attend such things – we just stayed home and argued over the toilet seat. But after we divorced, I started enjoying wasteful, pointless, absurd destruction. 

Instead of futilely fighting against the inevitable, I embraced it as entertainment. The divorce courtroom was just one theater of the absurd, the monster truck arena another, and the gleeful foolishness and destructive greed occasionally found in the financial press yet another.

In the spirit of wanton absurdity, we bring you stories on the latest trend in crypto, a recruiting “raid,” a disaster caused by a disaster recovery system, a broker turned terrorist and a missing broker who stole from a now-dead client.

We also have a story about a lotto winner who gave millions to the needy. Is generosity just as wasteful? You decide. 

1) Raymond James, Rep to Pay $20M Over Recruiting ‘Raid’ on Wells Fargo Office

“A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel has ordered Raymond James and a former Wells Fargo advisor to pay Wells Fargo Advisors nearly $20 million, the broker-dealer regulator announced Thursday.”

“Wells Fargo Advisors asserted that it ‘was damaged’ by a ‘coordinated raid’ conducted by Raymond James and [Kent Jackson] Rhoades of a branch office in Mountain Home, Arkansas, ‘which targeted all of the employees of the Mountain Home Branch and resulted in its closure.’

“Raymond James recruited Wells Fargo advisors away and opened a new branch office in the same town. The entire team left Wells Fargo and opened a new office with a Raymond James sign.”

What do you call it when you’re so successful at hiring that your competitor shuts down its office in a lovely Ozark village? An economist might call it “competition,” but if we call it a “raid” it sounds mean and the losers can sue. 

FINRA, are you now protecting the too-big-to-fails from competition for skilled labor? What a wise use of resources! 

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

2)  ChatGPT Mania Spurs Crypto Fans’ Stampede To ‘Faddish’ AI Tokens

Nice place for a coordinated raid

“Digital assets focused on artificial intelligence have been skyrocketing since OpenAI’s chatbot known as ChatGPT became an internet phenomenon and spurred buzz about its future potential.”

“For market-watchers with long memories, it’s reminiscent of other obsessions in the sector. This includes the phase when initial coin offerings were hot, or when a bunch of companies in 2018 jumped on the ‘blockchain’ bandwagon by reinventing themselves — at least on paper — into crypto-adjacent firms.”

There’s no monster truck rally like crypto-world. With NFTs, rug pulls, theft and fraud, this industry brings the theater of the absurd to a new level. P.T. Barnum reminded us that “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and today’s crypto-suckers believe that anything is artificially intelligent if it’s labeled so.

How’s that crypto AI investment working out?

By the way, I’d like to take a moment to shamelessly plug my launch of a groundbreaking new technology in digital value – a series of NFTs that each represents one artificial intelligence – and supplies of intelligence are limited, so act now! 

To read the full article by Vildana Hajric and Muyao Shen of Bloomberg News in Financial Advisor Magazine click here.

3)  How One Lotto Winner Spent His Millions

“One of the United Kingdom’s biggest lottery winners in history managed to spend over £40 million of his £161-million jackpot in just eight years. At first glance, the £100,000 a week average sounds jarring and like the beginning of a story about someone squandering their money away. However, that’s the opposite of what happened to Colin Weir, who left behind quite the philanthropic legacy with his spending.”

“Weir and his former wife spent £5 million buying houses for close friends and family. Instead of selling their old £220,000 house, they gave it to a young mother who lived next door with her parents.

“The generosity didn’t end there; they set up a trust to fund matters they support including health, animal welfare and public participation in sport. Other examples of their good deeds included a £50,000 sponsorship for an individual to complete a four-year art course in Florence and a five-figure sum for a new prosthetic limb for a 13-year-old. A month before he died, Weir’s company acquired a 55% share in his favorite football club so he could donate it to the fans and put the club’s future in the hands of the local community.”  

Alright – here’s your puppies and kittens article for the month to prove the world isn’t so bad. Unlike all those “lottery winners” in your family who keep telling you how they’ll share with you and give generously when they finally hit the jackpot, Weir was the real deal.

But isn’t radical generosity just as absurd as radical greed? Four years in Florence? – An indulgent vacation. A football club given to hooligans? – Will be mismanaged into bankruptcy. 

To read the full article by Anna Sulkin of, click here.

4) New York Stock Exchange’s ‘Manual Error’ Briefly Wiped Billions Of Dollars In Market Value—Here’s What Happened

“The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday [Jan. 25] said a manual error was behind the technical issue that forced the sudden halt of dozens of stocks and briefly wiped billions of dollars in market value from some of the world’s largest companies on Tuesday—shedding some light on a conundrum that has stunned traders and already piqued interest from regulators.”

“In a Wednesday status update, the NYSE said the ‘root cause’ of the Tuesday technical issue was a ‘manual error’ involving the exchange’s disaster recovery configuration, which kicked off trading without the usual opening auction that helps floor traders set the opening prices for stocks.”

Looks like the NYSE has been taking pointers from the good folks at Southwest Airlines. If everything is fine and everyone is happy – that’s boring. Mess things up! There’s nothing like customers with pitchforks to generate a good photo op.

Excited customers

Bonus points if you can originate a disaster from something that’s called “disaster recovery.” You’re as creative as my ex-wife’s divorce lawyer! 

To read the full article by Jonathan Ponciano of Forbes, click here.

5) Ex-Broker Convicted of Aiding ISIS

“A former broker who gave up his financial services career in the U.S. and left his family to travel to Syria and fight for the terrorist Islamic State group (ISIS) was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury in Manhattan of terrorism-related crimes and obstruction of justice, according to court documents and the Justice Department.”

“[Ruslan Maratovich] Asainov worked as a broker for Great Point Capital, based in Chicago, and Assent LLC in Brooklyn, a Justice Department spokesman told ThinkAdvisor on Friday.”

I’ve known brokers who changed careers to do some interesting and off-the-wall things, but never anybody who left a paying job to join a terrorist army. There’s no better way to take a monster truck to your future.

So, how’s that ISIS hobby?

Just pity the people who worked with Asainov all those years and suddenly learned the broker they shared donuts and coffee with joined ISIS. 

To read the full article by Jeff Berman of ThinkAdvisor, click here.

6) Broker now missing stole $275k from client now dead, lawsuit alleges

“Last month, the estate of the late Ellen Armistead Vestergaard – a nonagenarian American expatriate who’d been living in Denmark – served Cetera with a summons and a complaint … alleging that her brokerage representative with an affiliated IBD forged her signature and stole money out of her accounts, then vanished. The lawsuit against Cetera claims negligence and violations of the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act and seeks $275,000 plus attorney fees and interest.”

“Vestergaard’s estate alleges that Vestergaard first worked with Palky [aka Nikhil Palkhiwala] as her broker in 2009… In 2016, after his registration had lapsed, he returned, allegedly forging her signature using her Medallion Guarantee stamp to write checks from her accounts in the amounts of $180,000 and $95,232.12.”

Steal money. Disappear. The client dies. You should be in the clear, right? Well, yes, you are in fact in the clear so long as you don’t mind hiding for the rest of your life. That’s why the client’s estate sued the IBD’s parent company. 

Still waters run deep. So do big corporate pockets, which make them easy, juicy targets. Just take their money – they’re insured anyway. Gleeful, greedy absurdity. 

To read the full article by Andrew Foerch of CitywireRIA, click here.

James Miller, Contributing Editor & Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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