The Securities and Exchange Commission has barred former LPL Financial broker, Christopher Laws, for recommending his federally employed clients roll over holdings from their federal Thrift Savings Plan retirement accounts into higher-fee, variable annuity products.
From July 2005 to December 2014, Laws was a registered representative with LPL Financial and manager of LPL’s office of supervisory jurisdiction in Alpharetta, Georgia. Laws also owned 50 percent of Keystone Capital Partners, aka Federal Employees Benefits Counselors, and previously served as its chief financial officer and secretary.
In July 2017, the SEC charged Laws and three other former Atlanta-area LPL brokers who allegedly targeted federal employees who were nearing retirement and had sizable funds invested in the federal Thrift Savings Plan.
The SEC alleges that the brokers misled investors concerning significant details about the recommended variable annuity investment, including the associated fees and guaranteed investment returns. In some instances, according to the SEC, investors were led to believe that their funds would be invested in a product that was offered, vetted, or specifically selected by the Thrift Savings Plan.
According to the complaint, the brokers sent investors incomplete or modified transaction forms as well as written materials they devised that obscured that the investment was a privately issued variable annuity with no connection to the Thrift Savings Plan and would be processed through a private brokerage firm with which the brokers were associated.
The brokers sold approximately 200 variable annuities with a total face value of approximately $40 million to federal employees, who used money rolled over from their Thrift Savings Plan accounts to fund their purchases. The brokers collectively earned approximately $1.7 million in commissions on these sales.
Laws was affiliated with BCG Securities from 2014 to 2017 and held FINRA Series 7, 24, 63, and 66 licenses.