Financial Authority Files Complaint Against Phoenix Investment Firm

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has filed a complaint against a Phoenix-based investment company.

The authority’s complaint against Lawson Financial Corporation Inc. and its President and CEO Robert Lawson, alleges securities fraud in connection with the sale of millions of dollars of municipal revenue bonds to customers. 

The complaint, released Thursday, further charges Lawson and Pamela Lawson, the company’s chief operating officer, with self-dealing by abusing their positions as co-trustees of a charitable remainder trust and improperly using the trust funds to indirectly prop up their struggling offerings.

Based on the transfers of millions of dollars from the charitable remainder trust account, the complaint also charges Robert Lawson with misuse of customer funds.

The municipal revenue bonds at issue in the complaint include a $10.5 million bond offering in October 2014 for bonds relating to an Arizona charter school as underwritten by Lawson Financial and sold to its customers.

The complaint also focuses on secondary-market bond sales to Lawson Financial customers in 2015 of earlier-issued municipal revenue bonds relating to the corporate predecessor of the same Arizona charter school. 

And the complaint identifies secondary-market sales to Lawson Financial customers between January 2013 and July 2015 of earlier-issued municipal revenue bonds concerning two different assisted living facilities in Alabama.

Robert Lawson denied the allegations in an interview with the Arizona Republic.

The complaint alleges that Robert Lawson and Lawson Financial carried out their fraudulent scheme by transferring millions of dollars from a deceased customer’s charitable trust account.

The issuance of a disciplinary complaint represents the initiation of a formal proceeding by the authority. No decision has been made on the allegations 

Lawson Financial and its executives named in the complaint can file a response and request a hearing before an authority disciplinary panel. 

Possible remedies include a fine, censure, suspension or bar from the securities industry and payment of restitution.

The Washington-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States.