On June 16, 2022 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Western International Securities, Inc. and five of its registered representatives, or brokers with violating Best Interest Obligation regulations (commonly referred to as Regulation Best Interest or Reg BI) when they recommended and sold an unrated, high-risk debt security known as L Bonds to retirees and other retail investors. From July 2020 through April 2021, Western sold an aggregate of $13.3 million of L Bonds.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that, between July 2020 and April 2021, Western and the brokers recommended and sold L Bonds to retail customers, many of whom were on fixed incomes and had moderate risk tolerances, despite the issuer, GWG Holdings, Inc., stating the L bonds were high risk, illiquid, and only suitable for customers with substantial financial resources. The defendants allegedly failed to comply with Reg BI’s “Care Obligation” both because they did not exercise reasonable diligence, care, and skill to understand the risks, rewards, and costs associated with L Bonds, and also because they recommended L Bonds to at least seven particular customers without a reasonable basis to believe the bonds were in their customers’ best interests. The complaint also alleges Western failed to comply with Reg BI’s “Compliance Obligation” because it did not adequately establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with Reg BI.