Jesse Kovacs Suspended By FINRA For Allegedly Participating In Private Securities Transactions

Oakes & Fosher is currently investigating former securities broker George Merhoff. According to his publicly available FINRA BrokerCheck report, George Merhoff has been the subject of numerous customer disputes.

George Merhoff worked most recently as an Oregon based securities broker. He worked in the securities industry for twenty-one years. During his career, he was registered with three different securities firms. He is no longer working as a registered securities broker in any fashion.

His Registrations

  • AAG Securities (1997-1998)
  • Pacific West Securities (1998-2012)
  • Cetera Advisors (2012-2019)

The Allegations

  • In February 2016, a customer alleged that George Merhoff made unsuitable investments on their behalf. This case was settled for $290,000 in damages.
  • In March 2016, a customer alleged that George Merhoff breached his fiduciary duty, handled their account negligently, and violated Oregon securities laws. This case was settled for $2.9 million in damages.
  • In May 2016, a customer alleged that George Merhoff managed their account negligently, breached his fiduciary duty, and breached contract. This case was settled for $65,000 in damages.
  • In July 2016, a customer alleged that George Merhoff made unsuitable investments, engaged in common law fraud, breached contract, breached his fiduciary duty, and violated Oregon securities laws. This case was settled for $15,000 in damages.
  • In March 2017, George Merhoff became the subject of another complaint from a customer alleging he breached his fiduciary duty, managed their account negligently, and violated Oregon securities laws. This case was settled for $135,000 in damages.
  • In July 2017, a customer alleged that George Merhoff violated Oregon securities laws, breached his fiduciary duty, violated FINRA rules, and breached contract. This case was settled for $75,000 in damages.
  • In September 2018, a customer alleged that George Merhoff made unsuitable investment recommendations. These recommendations were unsuitable based on an alleged lack of diversity. This case was settled for $65,000 in damages.
  • In October 2018, a customer alleged that George Merhoff violated Oregon securities laws, breached his fiduciary duty, made unsuitable investment recommendations, violated NASD and FINRA rules, handled their account negligently, and breached contract. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $306,635 in damages.
  • He was the subject of two identical claims filed in April 2019. The customers in these cases alleged that George Merhoff managed their account negligently and breached his fiduciary duty. Both complaints are currently pending. The customer in the first case is seeking $100,000 in damages. The customer in the second case is seeking $150,000 in damages.
  • George Merhoff was also the subject of two identical claims filed in June 2019. The customers in these cases alleged that he managed their account negligently, breached his fiduciary duty, and violated Oregon Securities Laws. Both cases are currently pending. The customer in the first case is seeking $250,000. The customer in the second case is seeking $300,000 in damages.
  • Also in June 2019, a customer alleged that George Merhoff handled their account negligently, breached his fiduciary duty, violated Oregon and FINRA rules, recommended unsuitable securities, breached contract, and engaged in common law fraud. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $350,000 in damages.
  • In June 2019, George Merhoff was officially sanctioned by FINRA. The findings in this matter state that Merhoff failed to comply with a FINRA investigation into his issuance of consolidated account reports to customers and his making of undisclosed payments to customers. Due to this alleged failure to comply, George Merhoff was barred by FINRA from acting as a securities broker in any fashion.
  • In July 2019, George Merhoff became the subject of two identical complaints from customers alleging they incurred losses due to over-concentration. Both complaints are currently pending.
  • In September 2019, a customer alleged that George Merhoff violated Oregon Securities Law, violated California Corporations Code, and managed their account negligently. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $610,970 in damages.
  • In October 2019, a customer alleged that George Merhoff violated Oregon Securities Law, breached his fiduciary duty, recommended unsuitable investments, violated FINRA rules, managed their account negligently, and breached contract. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $325,000 in damages.
  • In December 2019, a customer alleged that George Merhoff violated Oregon and FINRA regulations, breached his fiduciary duty, recommended unsuitable investments, managed their account negligently, and breached contract. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $460,000 in damages.
  • In January 2020, a customer alleged that George Merhoff breached his fiduciary duty, managed their account negligently, committed fraud, and breached contract. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $500,000 in damages.
  • Also in January 2020, a customer alleged that George Merhoff breached his fiduciary duty, recommended unsuitable investments, violated FINRA rules, managed their account negligently, and breached contract. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $35,000 in damages.
  • In February 2020, a customer alleged that George Merhoff breached his fiduciary duty, recommended unsuitable investments, violated FINRA rules, managed their account negligently, and breached contract. This case is currently pending. The customer is seeking $43,000 in damages.

What Does This Mean?

Securities brokers have an obligation to their customers to always act in their best financial interests. This obligation is also known as their duty as a fiduciary. This duty exists so that customers can trust their brokers. This trust is necessary for the broker/customer relationship to function. The reason customers need to trust their money to brokers in the first place is because the brokers have, or should have, the knowledge to invest their money more efficiently than they could. This trust between broker and customer could not exist if brokers didn’t take this responsibility seriously and see it as their duty to act in the customer’s best interests. The allegations levied against George Merhoff are representative of a securities broker that does not have their customer’s best financial interests at heart. Brokers who breach their fiduciary duty work toward the erosion of trust between investors and brokers, which could then lead to the downfall of the broker/investor relationship.

Oakes & Fosher Can Help

Many investors are unaware of the legal recourse available to them after losing money due to securities broker negligence and/or misconduct. Individuals who believe they were the victims of securities broker negligence or misconduct may be entitled to damages.

Oakes & Fosher dedicates its entire legal practice to helping investors across the nation. If you, or someone you know, have lost money investing with George Merhoff, please contact Oakes & Fosher for a free and private consultation. Oakes & Fosher handles cases on a contingency basis, which means there are no fees charged unless we collect for you.