June 19, 2006                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      Former stockbroker, Randall Knowles, found to have committed several violations of Montana’s Securities Act
       –Montana State Auditor and Securities Commissioner, John Morrison, issued a final agency decision finding Great Falls insurance producer and former securities stockbroker, Randall Knowles in violation of the Montana securities act. Knowles committed several unlawful acts against Montana investors and conducted securities business while not licensed to do so. Knowles has been ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and his application for a new securities license has been denied.
      The case stems from a customer complaint regarding illegal activity by former insurance producer Mark Payton. Payton was attempting to sell fixed annuities to Montana customers by convincing them to liquidate their securities portfolios. Knowles was the conduit for the liquidations. Knowles was required by law to perform an analysis as to whether the liquidations were suitable for the customers prior to accepting the liquidation information but failed to do so. One customer was an elderly woman who had her IRA account liquidated. Another was an elderly woman whose daughter intervened to reverse the liquidation of the investments. A third woman who had a long-term customer relationship with Knowles, met with him and he attempted to conduct securities business while not licensed to do so, failing to inform her that he was no longer able to manage her account.
      Expressing his concern about securities advisors and stockbrokers who violate the law when handling the retirement funds belonging to Montana’s seniors, Morrison said "helping Montanans protect their hard-earned savings is a job I take seriously. Our senior citizens should be able to feel their investments are safe and their retirement is secure. We will not allow people who don’t play by the rules to coerce senior citizens into buying inappropriate investment products.”
      He said investors should understand whether there are financial consequences with the sale of a security, such as a capital gains tax or deferred sales charges. Investors also need to realize the risks and obligations of investing in annuities. There may be a lengthy holding period, penalties for early withdrawal, a lack of liquidity or other significant factors.
      “Before doing business with any investment professional, all investors, especially senior investors, should check with my office to determine whether the individual is properly licensed and if there have been disciplinary problems involving the individual or his or her firm,” Morrison said. Consumers can call the Auditor’s office toll free at 800-332-6148.