A Finra arbitration panel has ruled in favor of a former Merrill Lynch broker who accused the firm of defamation.

The wirehouse discharged Jeffrey Rathmanner in April 2017 over allegations of “[c]onduct involving making representations on behalf of the Firm without authority,” according to his BrokerCheck profile.

In October 2018, Rathmaner filed a claim accusing Merrill Lynch of defamation in relation to allegedly false statements on his Form U5, as well as of unjust enrichment and wrongful termination, according to an award document published by Finra earlier this week.

Rathmaner’s claim sought damages “in an amount the Panel deems to be just and equitable; compensatory damages,” according to Finra.

The arbitrators found Merrill Lynch liable for $3.75 million in compensatory damages plus interest and also ordered the wirehouse to pay Rathmaner’s Finra filing fee, the regulator says. The panel recommended that Rathmaner’s reason for termination be expunged from his record and changed to “voluntary,” according to the award document.

Rathmanner, who had been with Merrill Lynch since starting his career in the financial services industry in 1995, has one customer dispute on his record dating back to 2003.


The customer alleged that he suffered monetary damages because “his instructions to eliminate the margin balance in his account were not followed” and sought $100,000 in damages, according to BrokerCheck. The dispute was closed with no action, according to Rathmanner’s record.

After his discharge from Merrill Lynch, Rathmanner joined the Oak Ridge Financial Services Group, where he remains registered, according to BrokerCheck.