Home Alts News FINRA Files Disciplinary Action Against Former Merrill Lynch Advisor Over Cash Transactions

FINRA Files Disciplinary Action Against Former Merrill Lynch Advisor Over Cash Transactions

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced that it has filed a disciplinary action against James Iannazzo.

According to the complaint, Iannazzo repeatedly structured cash deposits and withdrawals in three separate bank and brokerage accounts for the purpose of causing the financial institutions to fail to file a currency transaction report.

Specifically, between December 2014 and March 2021, Iannazzo divided cash transactions over $10,000 into smaller deposits or withdrawals conducted over several days at the same bank, and often conducted the transactions at different branches of the same bank. Iannazzo also frequently withdrew more than $10,000 in cash on a single day through transactions conducted at two different financial institutions.

In total, Iannazzo structured 71 cash deposits and withdrawals totaling $568,440 in two personal bank accounts and 297 ATM deposits and withdrawals totaling $277,450 in a Merrill Lynch account.

Iannazzo structured these cash transactions to avoid conducting a single deposit or withdrawal over $10,000 at a financial institution, which would require the financial institution to file a CTR. Iannazzo engaged in this conduct despite receiving training on money laundering and structuring from Merrill Lynch and pamphlets describing CTRs and structuring from one of the banks.

FINRA says he used the cash to begin the construction of a new home in Southport, Connecticut in 2014. Iannazzo and his family moved into the home in July 2015, while continuing construction. In 2017, Iannazzo added a pool. In late 2019, Iannazzo decided to build a combined pool house and in-law suite. Iannazzo paid for these and other home improvements or expenses in cash, because vendors provided a cash discount and did not collect Connecticut’s 6.35% sales and use tax. Iannazzo also understood that paying the contractors (or their laborers) in cash would allow them to not report the cash as income on their taxes.

Iannazzo had worked at Merrill Lynch since 1996 but was immediately fired last year after a video of him went viral. In the recording, Iannazzo is seen yelling expletives at young smoothie shop employees and throwing a drink at one of them, apparently because a smoothie they served him caused his son to have an allergic reaction.

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