By Suzanne Barlyn
(Reuters) - A Beverly Hills, California, securities broker who advised Hollywood stars and racked up dozens of complaints from customers has been permanently barred from the securities business in a settlement with Wall Street's industry-funded watchdog.
Bambi Holzer, known for her frequent television appearances and also the 64 complaints customers filed against her since 1990, agreed to the sanction in a settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority dated December 19. She neither admitted nor denied FINRA's allegations, according to the settlement.
The agreement resolves a civil enforcement complaint that FINRA filed against Holzer in October for selling seven investors privately issued securities that later turned out to be fraudulent and for lying to FINRA in regulatory documents.
FINRA, in a separate move, suspended Holzer in September for failing to pay money she owed to an investor who had won an arbitration case against her, according to regulatory documents.
Holzer, who worked in the securities business since 1981, is now retired, she told Reuters. "I had a choice of fighting it and spending $150,000 in legal fees or settling it and moving on with my life, so I decided to settle it. I am trying to build a new life for myself."
A defense by Holzer would not have succeeded, according to Philip Aidikoff, a lawyer in Beverly Hills who has represented clients in numerous legal disputes involving Holzer.
"It seems stunning to me that she thinks this is some minor thing that can be defended and that it just costs too much so she's not going to," he said. "There's nothing defensible about what she did."
Holzer's former clients included actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus of TV's "Seinfeld."
The action comes after years of criticism from lawyers for investors that FINRA allowed Holzer to continue working in the securities business, despite the dozens of complaints against her by one-time clients who alleged sales practice violations. She often switched brokerage firms every few years, according to regulatory documents.
(Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)