Local investors to get refund

0

LEWISTON – The Maine Office of Securities has ordered New Jersey-based Pruco Securities to refund more than $36,000 to seven Maine investors, including two from Auburn, one from Lisbon and one from Rangeley.

The investors were clients of former Lewiston sales representative Gabriel J. Giguere Jr., who state officials say mismanaged their accounts, causing them to incur extra fees. Giguere has not been licensed as a sales representative since Oct. 10, 2005, and has not been with Prudential Financial – of which Pruco is a division – for at least three years.

The Office of Securities is holding the company responsible for the oversight, stating that it failed to supervise Giguere, said Bonnie Russell, acting securities administrator for the Office of Securities.

Refund amounts to the seven Mainers ranged from $200 to $19,000, with both the lowest and the highest going to residents of Androscoggin County.

The office found the deficiencies during a routine investigation, and the refunds were a result of a consent agreement between the office and Pruco. There will be no criminal action.

Excess fees were racked up when the clients’ mutual fund shares were bumped from Class A to Class B unnecessarily, Russell said, and the change in classes affects how a representative gets paid for the share.

Russell could not give details about the affected parties, only to say that many of them were senior citizens relying on Giguere to provide appropriate technical information.

“This case provides an opportunity for us to stress to investors that the ‘class’ of a mutual fund, and not only the historical or expected performance of the fund, can have significant impact on the net return an investor receives,” Russell said in a prepared statement. “Investors should be aware that the same mutual funds can have different ‘classes’ that can have sometimes much higher costs associated with them. Over time, excessive costs can erode the value of a fund far beyond what an investor might expect.”

Bob DeFillippo, a spokesman for Prudential, based in New Jersey, would not offer any more details except that Pruco cooperated throughout the investigation and expects to fully comply with the consent agreement.

This is the second time Giguere has been involved with a consent agreement with the Office of Securities. In September, the office determined that he had “engaged in unethical conduct in the securities business by recommending unsuitable transactions and engaging in mutual fund switching without sufficient regard for his clients’ best interests.” He was ordered to pay $3,000 and if he applied for licensing as an agent again in Maine, the hiring firm must agree to increased supervision.

Advertisement
SHARE