DeWaay Financial Network LLC has given up its broker-dealer license, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a private regulator.
The Clive-based financial services company has been under fire for several years from clients who claim they were misled by founder Donald DeWaay and other brokers who represent DeWaay Financial Network in making private placements, primarily in high-risk, high-return real estate deals and oil and gas leases.
Lawyers have said in court documents that DeWaay companies face financial ruin if claims against them are upheld. His personal wealth also has been the target of class-action lawsuits that are pending in Decatur County District Court.
According to the filings, DeWaay Financial Network's registration was terminated effective Nov. 9. Firms typically have about three months to wind down their affairs after terminating their registration.
"In light of all of this stuff, it was a prudent decision to reduce risk," said Steve Wandro, who is representing Donald DeWaay in the Decatur County lawsuits.
DeWaay and plaintiffs have agreed to a nearly $3 million settlement of claims in the class-action cases. As part of the settlement, plaintiffs would give up their right to seek arbitration of their claims before FINRA.
In November 2011, DeWaay voluntarily terminated his license to practice in Michigan due to FINRA arbitrations.
Brokers who have left DeWaay's employ but still carry their licenses through DeWaay Financial Network will have to find another sponsor.
Wandro said the broker-dealer field has become a "big-man's game."
DeWaay continues to advise clients, but can no longer assume the risk associated with having a variety of individuals selling the firm's products. Those individuals operate with little local oversight.
According to court documents, some brokers were receiving commissions in excess of 80 percent, far above the industry norm.
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