Merrill Lynch Fired Louisville Broker Amid Theft Allegations
Merrill Lynch has fired a broker in Louisville, Ky., after a client complaint led to an investigation that uncovered fraud, a firm spokesman said.
Christopher Lee Hibbard “stole client funds and made unauthorized transactions,” spokesman William Halldin wrote in an e-mail.
Hibbard, who had worked at Merrill for seven-and-a-half years and has been a registered rep for almost 19 years, was terminated on January 8, according to his BrokerCheck history. He could not be reached for comment.
“We promptly notified the appropriate authorities and are cooperating with their investigations,” Halldin wrote.
He added that the unidentified client who lost money will be reimbursed, consistent with corporate policy. The client complaint involved a money-market fund and a variable annuity, and is “pending,” according to BrokerCheck.
Halldin declined to comment on the alleged amount of the client’s loss, the size of Hibbard’s practice or whether the firm or its managers are being investigated over supervisory lapses.
Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said the FBI is investigating. David Habich, chief counsel for the FBI in Louisville, declined to comment, citing Department of Justice policy.
The SEC would not comment on whether it is taking action against Hibbard. He started at A.G. Edwards in April 1999, joined Morgan Keegan in 2004 and arrived at Merrill in July 2010, according to BrokerCheck. The only marks on his record are his “employment separation” and the related customer dispute reported on December 29, 2017.
Hibbard’s firing was reported earlier by “Louisville Business First.”