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Broker Charged With Targeting Fellow Immigrants in Scheme

The storefront offices of TWS (or “Trade Wall Street”) at 739 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Photo courtesy of Google Maps).

The Daily Eagle

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) – the security industry’s own, non-governmental regulator for  firms doing business with the public – has charged a Brooklyn-based brokerage firm with defrauding three customers of more than $4 million.

The firm, TWS Financial, is headed by Roman Sledziejowski, a Polish-born investment manager, and catered to the Polish immigrant community in Brooklyn, according by FINRA.

The complaint alleges that between June 2009 and August 2012, Sledziejowksi asked customers to wire funds from their bank or brokerage accounts to another company he owned, Innovest Holdings. He promised to invest the money in a Polish bank and vodka company, but didn’t do so, according to the complaint.

According to one source, this type of crime is called an “affinity scheme,” meaning that the scammer takes advantage of the fact that he has something in common with the victims.

Sledziejowski’s attorney, Robert Knuts, declined to comment on the charges, but he did say that the charges have only been made within FINRA, not within the legal system.

Possible sanctions, according to a FINRA spokesperson, include a fine, an order to pay restitution, censure, suspension or being banned from the securities industry.

A call to TWS Financial was not returned, and no one answered it. According to FINRA, on Nov. 9, TWS filed an application to withdraw its broker-dealer registration, meaning that it planned to shut its business down.

A business-profile site named Cortera lists TWS Financial at 739 Manhattan Ave. as a single-location business, with less than five employees, founded in 2010 and with a sales range of less than $500,000.

The difference between the better-known Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), a federal agency, and FINRA, is, according to Investopedia, that “SEC is responsible for ensuring fairness for the individual investor and FINRA is responsible for overseeing virtually all U.S. stockbrokers and brokerage firms. In the grand scheme of things, FINRA is overseen by the SEC.”

November 29, 2012 - 3:41pm


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