CFP Board Imposes Interim Suspension on Gregory K. Womack of Edmond, Oklahoma
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) announced that it has imposed an interim suspension of the CFP® certification against Gregory K. Womack, which was effective as of October 25, 2022.
On August 25, 2022, CFP Board filed a Motion for Interim Suspension Order (Motion) pursuant to Article 2.1.a.1. of CFP Board’s Procedural Rules requesting that the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) issue an Interim Suspension Order against Mr. Womack. On August 8, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed charges against and announced a settlement with Mr. Womack and other defendants, including Mr. Womack’s firm Womack Investment Advisers, Inc. (WIA), which he owns. In the settlement, without admitting or denying the allegations, Mr. Womack consented to the findings that, beginning in March 2018, he and WIA engaged in transactions, practices, or courses of business that acted as a fraud or deceit upon over 250 investors by offering and selling $23.3 million in interests in four unregistered securities offerings that involved purported real estate investment opportunities (GreneCo Offerings). Mr. Womack also consented to findings that he and WIA failed to inform those investors that they would receive millions of dollars in management fees from investor funds and that they received at least $160,000 directly from GreneCo as a result of the GreneCo Offerings. Instead, WIA filed Part 2B of its annual Form ADV on March 9, 2018, which misleadingly represented that the firm “receives no compensation from a client’s participation and does not charge the client a fee for this investment.” The settlement stated that, as fiduciaries of their clients, Mr. Womack and WIA were required to disclose these conflicts of interest, and their failure to do so operated as a fraud or deceit upon one or more clients or prospective clients. As such, Mr. Womack and his firm violated Section 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Additionally, the GreneCo Offerings were securities, but Mr. Womack and his co-defendants failed to register their offerings with the SEC, and no registration exemption applied. Accordingly, Mr. Womack and two co-defendants violated Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933.
Pursuant to the terms of the settlement with the SEC, Mr. Womack and his co-defendants agreed to be permanently enjoined from violating these statutory provisions. Further, Mr. Womack agreed he is liable for disgorgement of $236,739.00 plus $48,170.00 in prejudgment interest and a civil penalty of $145,031.00; and his firm is liable for disgorgement of $160,000.00 plus $32,609.00 in prejudgment interest and a civil penalty of $517,955.00. GreneCo agreed it is liable for a civil penalty of $414,364.00, and GreneCo’s co-owner agreed he is liable for a civil penalty of $41,440.00. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma approved the settlement on August 15, 2022. An SEC press release and at least one other news source described the SEC’s Complaint against and settlement with Mr. Womack and his co-defendants.
A Hearing Panel of the DEC reviewed the matter and then granted the Motion and issued the Interim Suspension Order on October 25, 2022, after determining that CFP Board Counsel demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Womack’s conduct poses a significant threat to the public or significantly impinges upon the reputation of the profession or the CFP® certification marks. The Interim Suspension Order suspends Mr. Womack’s right to use the CFP® marks pending CFP Board’s completed investigation and possible further disciplinary proceedings.
An interim suspension is a suspension of a CFP® professional’s certification and trademark license during the pendency of proceedings. A Respondent subject to an Interim Suspension Order must not use the CFP® certification marks or state or suggest that Respondent is a CFP® professional while the Interim Suspension Order is in effect. An Interim Suspension Order is a temporary sanction and does not preclude CFP Board from imposing a final sanction. An Interim Suspension Order will remain in place until the DEC or, if an appeal is filed, CFP Board’s Appeals Commission, issues a final order. CFP Board Counsel may vacate an Interim Suspension Order if a criminal conviction is vacated or reversed or if Respondent provides sufficient evidence indicating that Respondent was not the subject of a criminal conviction. A Hearing Panel of the DEC may issue an Order to vacate an Interim Suspension Order upon a successful Petition to Vacate an Interim Suspension Order by Respondent.
The basis for this decision also may be found on CFP Board’s website at CFP.net/verify. At that website, CFP Board provides the public with:
- The ability to check on any individual’s CFP Board disciplinary history and CFP® certification status.
- Links to other sources of information about CFP® professionals that may be more recent or that may contain information that has not led to CFP Board discipline and does not appear on CFP Board’s website. This information may include customer disputes, disciplinary actions taken by a regulator or employer, certain criminal matters and certain financial matters (such as bankruptcy proceedings and unpaid judgments or liens).
- Links to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.’s (FINRA) BrokerCheck and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Investment Adviser Public Disclosure databases for individuals who are subject to FINRA or SEC oversight.
CFP Board’s Enforcement Process
As part of their certification, CFP® professionals make a commitment to CFP Board to abide by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (Code and Standards) or its predecessor, the Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards), which included the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards. CFP Board’s Procedural Rules set forth the process for investigating matters and imposing sanctions where violations have been found.
CFP Board enforces its ethical standards by investigating alleged violations and, where there is probable cause to believe there are grounds for sanction, presents a Complaint containing the alleged violations to CFP Board’s DEC. The DEC meets at least six times a year to review any matter in which CFP Board has alleged that a CFP® professional has violated the Code and Standards or its predecessor Standards. The DEC functions in accordance with the Procedural Rules and reviews all matters on a case-by-case basis, considering the details specific to an individual case. If the DEC determines there are grounds for sanction, then it may impose a sanction. DEC orders may be appealed by a CFP® professional or CFP Board pursuant to the Procedural Rules.
In certain circumstances, such as when a CFP® professional is in default due to failure to acknowledge receipt of a Notice of Investigation or file an Answer, CFP Board staff must deliver an Administrative Order of Suspension, Temporary Bar, Revocation or Permanent Bar. Administrative Orders also are subject to appeal.
More information on CFP Board’s enforcement process can be found at CFP.net/ethics/enforcement.
CFP Board is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board consists of two affiliated organizations focused on advancing the financial planning profession for the public’s benefit. CFP Board of Standards sets and upholds standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification — widely recognized by the public, advisors and firms as the standard for financial planners — so that the public has access to the benefits of competent and ethical financial planning. CFP® certification is held by nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. CFP Board Center for Financial Planning addresses diversity and workforce development challenges and conducts and publishes research that adds to the financial planning profession’s body of knowledge.
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