WASHINGTON - The National Association of Securities Dealers this week fined a Florida firm $50,000 and expelled it from the securities business for allegedly trying to conceal its ownership of municipal bonds to avoid Securities and Exchange Commission rules.
The NASD charged that between April 1991 and September 1991, Adams, Block & Coe Securities of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sold its roughly $1 million municipal bond portfolio at the end of each month to "non bona fide buyers" and bought it back at the same or a slightly higher price the beginning of the following month.
The idea, the NASD charged, was to hide the existence of the bonds when it came time to calculate net capital, in a scheme to avoid being hit with SEC-mandated "haircuts."
The SEC requires firms to maintain sufficient levels of capital from one month to the next as a margin of safety. A firm's net capital is calculated using formulas that call for deductions, or haircuts, for riskier bonds that firms own in their accounts.
In addition to fining and expelling the firm, the NASD fined its president, Michael Wechsler, $10,000 and suspended him from the business for 14 days. Further, the NASD stipulated that he must requalify by taking an exam if he wants to serve as an official of a municipal securities firm again. The NASD said Mr. Wechsler failed to supervise the firm's trading adequately.
In other action, the NASD fined New York firm F.B. Horner & Associates and Fred B. Horner, an official of the firm, $99,201 for allegedly making two sales of zero coupon bonds to a major buyer at unfair prices. The NASD fined the firm and Mr. Horner after considering an appeal of an earlier association ruling on the case.
Additionally, the NASD barred Baton Rouge, La., broker Lawrence J. Dumestre Jr. from the securities business for allegedly taking funds that customers gave him to buy municipal bonds and failing to pay for the bonds promptly. Instead, the NASD charged, he deposited the funds into his own bank accounts and later paid for the bonds out of these accounts. Mr. Dumestre neither admitted nor denied the charges.