By Jonathan Davies
Many of the Stratton Oakmont traders who inspired the Martin Scorcese film The Wolf of Wall Street are still working on Wall Street, despite receiving several warnings.
Famed for the lavish working lifestyle that included sex (at the office), drugs (at the office), alcohol (at the office) and dwarf-throwing (at the office) portrayed in the film, Stratton Oakmont was the brokerage firm set-up by disgraced stock broker Jordan Belfort. Stratton Oakmont and its traders were responsible for conning people out of millions of dollars.
But according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, there are still former Stratton Oakmont traders working on Wall Street despite numerous warnings from regulators.
"High Risk Broker" is a programme, set-up by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra), to target brokers who have received disciplinary red-flags or have been associated with risky firms. But the Wall Street Journal claims the programme has not banned any of the former Stratton Oakmont traders, despite poor disciplinary records.
The Journal points to Christopher Veale who started his career as a stockbroker with Stratton Oakmont. He has worked for 18 brokerage firms and received 25 red flags in 20 years. Six of the 18 firms he has worked for were later closed down by regulators.
Veale has received 10 customer complaints which resulted in payouts totalling more than $320,000. And his record shows four regulatory actions, including a 45-day suspension in 2004.
The regulator described his treatment of an 81-year old investor as “unethical and unscrupulous”. Veale has not been banned from trading by Finra, but is an ideal candidate for such punishment according to the Wall Street Journal.
A Finra spokesperson said the programme targets those with a large number of disciplinary flags and a “legacy of being associated with risky firms". The spokesperson confirmed that Mr Veale, nor any of his former Stratton Oakmont colleagues, are among the 131 brokers banned from trading. And Finra refused to comment on whether or not any of them have been classified as "high risk".
After the Wall Street Journal asked Finra for a comment, Veale has since left the industry and “moved on to other ventures”, he said in an interview, but refused to comment further.
Susan Axelrod, head of regulatory operations for Finra, told the Wall Street Journal that having worked for a high-risk and expelled firm “doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a bad actor or guilty of anything".