A FINRA arbitration panel has ordered J.P. Morgan Securities to fork over $350,000 to compensate a former private banker for wrongfully terminating her from her job and damaging her reputation.
Kostantina Dimitrova Bourdev, who worked for J.P. Morgan Chase Bank in San Jose, Calif., claimed that J.P. Morgan wrongly accused her of participating in customer meetings where a financial advisor she sometimes worked with misrepresented investment products, said Bourdev's attorney, Cary Lapidus of San Francisco.
J.P. Morgan also alleged that Bourdev failed to report those misrepresentations to the bank.
In fact, Bourdev had never been in any meetings during which misrepresentations were made to customers, Lapidus said.
Bourdev, a private banker who held her securities license through J.P. Morgan Securities, sometimes worked in tandem with the financial advisor, holding joint customer meetings and presentations. Bourdev mostly presented banking products, while the advisor presented investment products, according to Lapidus.
Bourdev was dismissed from J.P. Morgan in September 2013, one month after the advisor was fired for allegedly telling clients that certain investments were without risk and guaranteed to rise in value. The advisor had had a troubled relationship with the bank, Lapidus said.
After considering the evidence, the panel found that Bourdev had not been present during the misconduct of the advisor and that Bourdev had not been involved in any alleged wrongdoing, FINRA's panel stated in a filing.
During the arbitration, it came out that J.P. Morgan had not given Bourdev any notice that there were charges against her. "They gave my client no opportunity to defend herself. They terminated her before she had an opportunity to show them that they were incorrect," said Lapidus.
Bourdev brought the proceeding to repair her reputation and set the record straight on her U5 form. The form not only falsely stated that she participated in presentations in which misrepresentations were made but also checked a box indicating that there were alleged violations of investment statutes and regulations.
"With that kind of language, she could not find a comparable job," said Lapidus.
According to Lapidus, Bourdev was one of J.P. Morgan's top performers, having worked her way up to be a private banker.
"She eventually took a job with Ameriprise but she had to go back to the first rung of the ladder," said Lapidus. "The job paid about half of what she was earning at J.P. Morgan Chase."
Bourdev joined Ameriprise in November 2013, according to her BrokerCheck report. She did not return a message seeking comment.
Bourdev sought compensatory damages for the money she lost as a result of the false statements on the U5 and the wrongful termination by J.P. Morgan. She sought both back pay as well as future pay that was likely to be lost, according to Lapidus.
In addition to $350,000, the arbitration panel held J.P. Morgan liable for interest on the award at a rate of 10% annually, plus $200 as reimbursement for the non-refundable portion of Bourdev's filing fee. The panel also recommended that Bourdev's U5 be corrected.
J.P. Morgan's attorney, Jeffrey Wortman of Los Angeles law firm Seyfarth Shaw, did not return a call seeking comment. Mike Fusco, a spokesperson for Chase Wealth Management, declined to comment.