CFP Board Suspends UBS Broker Joseph Whitney For Fraud

Unpacking the Suspension of Financial Advisor Joseph Whitney for Alleged Misconduct

My name is Emily Carter, and as a financial analyst and writer, I’ve seen the impacts of fraudulent behavior in the finance industry firsthand. Let me guide you through the recent suspension of Joseph M. Whitney from the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board. Whitney’s career as a financial advisor is currently under scrutiny. A closer look at his professional record on BrokerCheck reveals that he was affiliated with UBS from January 2009 until May 2020. After his departure, Whitney joined Wedbush Securities in June 2020 but left by February 2021. Interestingly, his LinkedIn profile still suggests he’s part of Wedbush – a point of contention since UBS and Wedbush have not commented on this discrepancy.

On March 2, the CFP Board responded to Whitney’s situation. They asked their Disciplinary Ethics Commission to suspend him due to a criminal case filed by New Jersey’s Office of Gangs and Organized Crime. Whitney was charged with first-degree conspiracy, an accusation taken so seriously that the suspension was approved and instated. This is a stark reminder that actions have consequences, especially in positions of trust.

New Jersey’s Attorney General, Gurbir S. Grewal, revealed on February 5 that Whitney, only 42 years old, was charged alongside four other individuals. They’re accused of conspiring to defraud investors and mortgage lenders out of over half a million dollars. These financial shenanigans involved misleading real estate investments and the laundering of ill-gotten gains.

It’s a plot that seems lifted from a thriller novel but grounded sadly in reality. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” and in this case, a lack of ethical investment by Mr. Whitney has resulted in serious allegations.

Parallel to the criminal charges, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities stepped in and refused Whitney’s application to register as a legal securities representative in the state. The bureau’s decision blocks him from the local securities industry, linking their stance firmly to Whitney’s alleged criminal behavior. Melanie Whitney, Joseph Whitney’s wife, George Bussanich Sr., George Bussanich Jr., and Bruce Evanter, three individuals related by family or association, also embroiled in this tangled web of accusations.

In 2020, an additional layer to Whitney’s predicament surfaced when a UBS attorney accused him of fraud and violating his fiduciary duty. Whitney’s client claimed damages potentially reaching $2 million, which echoes the gravity of the accusations against him. This case highlights a chilling financial fact: bad financial advisors can cost their clients dearly, with some studies estimating that misconduct by such advisors costs Americans billions of dollars annually.

Whitney’s defense against these legal actions seems to rest on the argument that everything was above board, and his clients did not complain about his conduct at UBS. Nonetheless, the lines between his professional responsibilities and personal life seem to have blurred, leading to the current situation and subsequent suspension.

As a professional in finance, I encourage investors to do their homework and check the credentials and disciplinary history of advisors through resources such as FINRA’s BrokerCheck. It is pivotal to ensure that the person managing your hard-earned money is trustworthy and reliable. In the spirit of due diligence, here is a link to check an advisor’s FINRA CRD number and history.

Let this story be a cautionary tale about the critical importance of transparency and the potential ramifications of misconduct in the financial services industry. I am committed to demystifying complex financial issues and exposing truths that help you, the reader, navigate the world of finance with confidence.

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