Former Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments Broker Tonya Smoake Accused of Recommending Private Securities

Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments

Former Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments broker Tonya Smoake (CRD# 4985049) was suspended by FINRA regarding her participation in private securities transactions. Tonya Smoake was registered with Bhargava Capital in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey from 2019 to 2020. Previously, Tonya Smoake was registered with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments in New York, New York from 2017 to 2019 and with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated in New York, New York from 2007 to 2017.

FINRA Investigating Tonya Smoake

In March 2021, FINRA opened an investigation into Tonya Smoake regarding: “Tonya Smoake was requested to respond on a pending investigation of violation of rule 3280 against the CEO of Avestar Capital LLC. Given her affiliation with FINRA she was requested to respond on any knowledge or any participation she may or may not have had. This is currently being investigated and an affidavit attesting to no involvement from Tonya Smoake is in process of being prepared.”

In April 2021, FINRA sanctioned Tonya Smoake to pay a $5,000 civil and administrative penalty and fine and suspended her for 12 months, after she “consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that she participated in private securities transactions involving approximately $1.6 million in total sales, without providing her member firm with prior written notice. The findings stated that Smoake facilitated investments in a registered investment advisor (RIA) and its holding company, both of which raised capital through a securities offering pursuant to Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933. Smoake was the chief operations officer (COO) of the RIA at the time of the offerings and was involved in the RIA and the offerings by the RIA’s chief executive officer (CEO). To facilitate the investments, Smoake distributed offering documents to, and gathered signed documents from, investors, answered investor questions and coordinated investor payments. Smoake did not receive any commissions from the sale of the securities and none of the investors were firm customers. The findings also stated that Smoake inaccurately certified on the firm’s annual compliance questionnaires that she was not involved in any private securities transaction that had not been previously disclosed to the firm.”

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, Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Tonya Smoake’s customers.

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