State Securities Regulator Heath Abshure Disputes Ethics Complaint by Stephens Inc.

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 12:00 am  

Heath Abshure, shown in a file photo from 2011, has been commissioner of the Arkansas Securities Department for six years. (Photo by Jason Burt)

The threat, Knight said, “was inappropriate, in our opinion. We were being threatened, and that certainly made it feel even more like retaliation.”

Yet Knight agreed to the terms, including the $25,000 fine.

“I could have turned him down, and I would have had to have gone through a very expensive, time-consuming investigation over $5,000,” Knight said. “From a practical standpoint, it wasn’t worth it.”

Abshure said the settlement, even with the larger fine, was still advantageous to Stephens because the firm was not required to admit wrongdoing and because it would forestall any additional investigation into its sales of inverse and leveraged ETFs.

Abshure scoffed at the idea that extracting a donation to NASAA would burnish his resume, which he pointed out already included partnership in a law firm, service in the federal government and an almost-completed presidency of his national organization.

“Getting $25,000 out of Stephens is not going on the top of the CV,” he said.

And he dismissed completely Stephens’ suggestion that sending the signed order to Arkansas Business before sending a copy to Stephens was a form of retaliation.

“We sent it to you because we send all of them to you,” he said.

(This is not literally true. Not every order posted on the ASD’s website has been sent to Arkansas Business, although many of them have been — including the orders against Morgan Keegan, Crews & Associates and LaRue.)

What’s more, he said, Stephens should have made its own copy before sending the signed original to Abshure’s office.

“That’s the dumbest bunch of shit I’ve ever heard,” Abshure said. “They signed it. It would have been an order that they had signed.”



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