Former The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. and Green Vista Capital, LLC Broker Faces Multiple Customer Complaints Regarding Conservation Easements
Posted on Monday, August 16th, 2021 at 3:31 pm
In March 2021, a former client filed a FINRA arbitration against The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc., Green Vista Capital, LLC, and broker Andrew Miles (CRD# 5986774). The complaint was regarding professional negligence and negligent supervision of the clients in connection with investment advice rendered in connection with tax minimization strategies.
It is alleged that Miles built an investment advisory practice that focused on reducing recommended high net worth or high-income investors as a mechanism to reduce their taxable income. In sum and substance, the investment strategy is related to either donating funds to conservation-related charities, purchasing equity interests in environmentally friendly securities or purchasing tax credits.
As a direct and proximate result of the negligence and breach of fiduciary duty by The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc., Green Vista Capital, LLC, and broker Miles, as well as the negligent supervision of Miles by The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc., Green Vista Capital, LLC, the clients have suffered millions of dollars in unnecessary tax liability and exposure.
Regrettably for the client, Miles recommended that the clients purchase tax credits from a clean coal company. Unfortunately for the clients, shortly after the purchase of these tax credits, the IRS began the process to disallow the deduction for these tax credits. As this process takes time, in January 2021, the Claimants were notified that the computational adjustment for the clean coal credits was completed, and the Claimants owed in excess of $1,000,000 in back taxes.
Additionally, between 2014 and 2020, in connection with the investment advice given by Miles, the clients made various charitable donations to conservation-related investment projects. These conservation-related donations would allow the clients to deduct from their ordinary income a multiple of what they had donated. During this time, the clients donated more than $1 million to these conservation investment-related projects and received millions of dollars in tax deductions. However, around 2015 the IRS began to question these conservation-related donations, and by early 2017 had considered them “listed transactions” – which has set them up for a challenge with the IRS. It is alleged that Miles failed to conduct adequate due diligence on the clean coal tax credits and the conservation donation strategies. Had Miles conducted proper due diligence, he would have determined that other more prudent tax minimization strategies existed for the clients, and would have not rendered the investment advice at issue in this arbitration.
Miles was registered with Green Vista Capital, LLC in Winter Park, Florida from 2018 to 2021 and The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. in Vero Beach, Florida from 2011 to 2018.
Miles has been the subject of five additional customer complaints between 2019 and 2021, according to his CRD report:
May 2021. “Claimants allege that respondents did not conduct a reasonable due diligence on conservation easement investments made on December 22, 2015, December 3, 2016 and November 24, 2017, that the investments were misrepresented to them and that investments were unsuitable because they were misrepresented to them and claimants did not understand the investments.” The customer is seeking $126,656 in damages and the case is currently pending.
May 2021. “Claimants allege that respondents did not conduct a reasonable due diligence on conservation easement investments made on January 3, 2019 and November 15, 2019, that the investments were misrepresented to them and that investments were unsuitable because they were misrepresented to them and claimants did not understand the investments.” The customer is seeking $105,000 in damages and the case is currently pending.
July 2020. “The Customer alleges that Pathfinder Business Strategies LLC/Tax Savings Professionals an entity owned by Mr. Miles recommended and sold him clean coal tax credits in 2012. Prior to purchasing the services and tax credits, the customer alleges that he was told that the equipment had been put into service in 2005 and the tax credits were for coal that had already been processed. Due to a fraud committed by the issuer, the IRS denied the tax credits. The customer alleges that Mr. Miles told him that he would “make us whole”, but noted that E&O insurance carrier would not communicate with or accept his claim until the FBI, DOJ and IRS completed all their decisions and actions. The customer alleges that in Nov. 2019 and July 2020 he submitted a claim. The E&O insurance carrier told him that the claim was denied because Mr. Miles’ policy coverage was exhausted.” The customer is seeking $100,000 in damages and the case is currently pending.
May 2020. “The Customer alleges that Pathfinder Business Strategies LLC/Tax Savings Professionals an entity owned by Mr. Miles breached the agreement whereby the Customer was guaranteed tax savings if he used Mr. Miles’ strategies. Moreover, the Customer alleges Mr. Miles directed him to purchase Clean Coal Tax Credit Strategy. The Customer alleges that the Mr. Miles informed him that he was the victim of a third party fraud. As a result, the Customer did not receive the guaranteed Tax Savings. The Customer claims damages in excess of $25,000 exclusive of costs, interest and attorney fees.” The customer is seeking $25,000 in damages and the case is currently pending.
April 2019. “[REDACTED] and [REDACTED] (“Plaintiffs”) allege that Andrew Miles as well as two entities owned by Mr. Miles (Pathfinder Business Strategies LLC and Tax Savings Professionals LLC.) and three (3) other individuals (Defendants”), breached the agreement whereby Defendants would provide tax planning and wealth preservation tax advice. Moreover, the Plaintiffs allege the Defendants directed them to purchase a clean coal energy tax credits without properly vetting Ecotec (Issuer). Furthermore, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants failed to provide expert tax and/or investment strategies so that the Plaintiffs would receive tax savings; failed to provide expert advice concerning tax deductions, credits and procedures, failed to save Plaintiffs $400,000 in U.S. taxes and failed to refund all sums paid to Defendants among other allegations. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants made false statements and misrepresentations about their level of expertise, type of services and vetting process of Ecotec. Plaintiff also alleges unjust enrichment as Defendants received fees, commission, kickbacks and/or other payment in connection with Plaintiff’s investment in Ecotec.” The customer sought $1,677,344 in damages and the case was settled for $500,000.
Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. and Green Vista Capital, LLC may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Miles’ customers.
Erez Law represents investors in the United States for claims against brokers and brokerage firms for wrongdoing. If you have experienced investment losses, please call us at 888-840-1571 or complete our contact form for a free consultation. Erez Law is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies on a contingency fee basis.