Wells Fargo’s Claim of Unauthorized Trading Defamed Veteran Broker: Arbitrators
An arbitration panel has ordered Wells Fargo Advisors to pay $1.9 million to a broker who alleged he was wrongfully terminated in mid-2013 and defamed in its dismissal file.
Bruce Tuchman filed an arbitration claim in October 2013 against Wells and his Albany, NY-based complex manager, Frank Dyer, for about $25 million. Wells counter-sued Tuchman for about $200,000, representing the alleged balance of a forgivable loan note he signed when it hired him from Smith Barney in January 2009.
Tuchman, who is now 66, was fired in June 2013 for allegedly entering orders without first contacting customers in violation of firm policy, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Tuchman at the time had worked as a broker for 32 years, including 15 at Merrill Lynch and more than 12 at Smith Barney and affiliated companies. The only other disclosure on his BrokerCheck record — a client complaint in 2000 about the suitability of annuity fund investments in a charitable remainder trust — was dismissed.
In its decision posted Tuesday on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s arbitration award website, three arbitrators ruled Wells Fargo defamed Tuchman by saying on its U-5 filing that he was fired for violating firm policy. It also ordered Wells to modify the U-5 to say his registration was “terminated without cause.”
About $1.2 million of Tuchman’s $1.8 million award represented compensatory damages, largely reflecting what he would have earned between his termination date and the date he likely would have retired, the arbitrators ruled. They also awarded $523,000 in attorney’s fees and forgiveness of the $200,000 remaining on his forgivable loan.
Tuchman’s claim against Dyer, his former complex manager, was denied. He had sought total punitive damages from Wells and Dyer of $18 million, including $1 million for defamation and $4 million for emotional distress.
Tuchman, who worked out of Kingston, NY, could not be reached for comment and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment. According to his LinkedIn profile, Tuchman has left the securities industry and works as a consultant to think tanks.
A spokesman for Wells Fargo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.