Finra Suspends South Carolina Broker Who Understated Her Age
In another cautionary tale for brokers looking to cosmeticize their personal details, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has suspended and fined a South Carolina broker who allegedly lied to three different firms about her age.
Lisbeth “Libby” Cherrington, a retail broker for 27 years who is currently an independent contractor with FSC Securities, agreed to a two-month suspension and $15,000 fine, according to a letter of settlement posted on Finra’s online disciplinary actions site.
Cherrington, who did not return a call for comment at her FSC office in Bluffton, S.C., neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the settlement. Her lawyer, Thomas M. Campbell, declined to comment on details of the case or on the settlement.
Cherrington made headlines in 2014 when she sued Morgan Stanley for discrimination, alleging it created a hostile work environment because of her openly gay lifestyle. Morgan Stanley denied the claim, and counter-claimed in arbitration to collect $6.7 million of promissory notes related to “forgivable loans” she had received.
The claims were resolved in a confidential settlement in May 2016, according to Campbell.
Cherrington provided a false date of birth on various employment applications, personal brokerage account records and investments to Wells Fargo Advisors, Morgan Stanley and FSC while employed at those firms between July 2011 and August 2016, according to the settlement letter that Finra posted on Friday. Her conduct caused the firms to maintain inaccurate books and records in violation of Finra rules, the self-regulatory group said.
A person who claimed to have worked with Cherrington and who spoke on condition of anonymity said she understated her age by six years.
The “acceptance, waiver and consent” letter said her age-alteration began in June 2010 when she “obtained a driver’s license with a false date of birth” that she used to update her personal brokerage accounts at Wells in 2011. She repeated the age-saving information on her WebCRD search consent form at Morgan Stanley and on her background-check fingerprint card when she joined FSC in January 2014, among other documents, Finra said.
The consent letter accused her of exacerbating the problem by telling FSC during an internal investigation that “someone” provided the wrong birth date and her driver’s license was inaccurate because of her “lack of oversight when it automatically renewed.” Cherrington’s conduct violated Finra’s Rule 4511 requiring firms to maintain accurate books and records and its Rule 2010 requiring firms and their associated persons to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade, the letter said.
Brokers over the years have stumbled on various vanity issues, including inaccurate information used in registration and marketing materials about their education, military experience and age.
Morgan Stanley last month “permitted” Dallas complex manager Ben Fujihara to resign following allegations about the accuracy of personal background information he provided to the firm and his adherence to receiving permission for outside business activities, according to U5 filings. Fujihara, who declined to discuss the allegations, inaccurately claimed to be a graduate of Texas A&M University, according to several sources.
Cherrington, who FSC said was managing $300 million of client assets when she joined three-and-a-half years ago, had previously been fined $2,000 by the South Carolina Department of Insurance over allegations that she renewed her insurance license application four times with an incorrect birth date, according to Finra.
A spokesperson for FSC, a member of the Advisor Group broker-dealer network, did not immediately return a request for comment.