March 6, 2013 / 9:22 PM / 5 years ago

FINRA bars ex-Wells Fargo adviser for alleged check-writing scam

March 6 (Reuters) - A former broker for Wells Fargo Advisors LLC has been barred from the securities industry after allegedly writing at least $650,000 in checks from a client’s account without permission, including to his girlfriend, according to a regulatory document.

Adorean Boleancu, a former San Francisco-based adviser at Wells Fargo Private Bank, a unit of Wells Fargo & Co, agreed to a permanent bar from the industry in a settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street’s self-watchdog, according to a document dated Tuesday.

Boleancu must also repay the client, an elderly widow, $650,000, according to the settlement. He neither admitted nor denied FINRA’s findings.

A Wells Fargo spokesman declined to comment.

Boleancu made a “common sense decision” to settle FINRA’s action without incurring monetary penalties, said his San Francisco-based lawyer, Ethan Balogh. Boleancu repaid the client, Donna Treadwell, in February, Balogh said.

Boleancu also faces a separate arbitration filed by Treadwell.

The FINRA action stems from alleged misconduct that occurred after Boleancu joined Wells Fargo in 2008 and until 2010. He allegedly wrote checks in Treadwell’s name from two home equity lines of credit he advised her to open, FINRA said. The recipients included his girlfriend, said FINRA.

He used Treadwell’s checking account to pay the equity line interest.

Treadwell filed a lawsuit last year in a California state court against Boleancu, Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley, where Boleancu worked from 2004 to 2008, according to filings.

Boleancu was Treadwell’s adviser at Morgan Stanley and she moved her assets to Wells Fargo when he switched firms.

Treadwell, while at Morgan Stanley, also invested $2 million in variable annuities as Boleancu advised, according to the lawsuit. Variable annuities are tax-deferred investments tied to an insurance contract. They can be risky, however, because the returns, unlike fixed annuities, fluctuate based on the performance of underlying securities.

She paid a $70,000 fee to exit the annuities last year. By then, their value sank by $1 million.

The parties later agreed to resolve the court case in arbitration.

Morgan Stanley plans to defend itself in the arbitration, a spokeswoman said. Boleancu’s conduct in the FINRA action, she said, happened after he left Morgan Stanley.

Wells Fargo terminated Boleancu in 2011 for not adequately participating in a company review about a loan from a client, the firm disclosed in a filing.

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