Insigneo Reels in Fired Merrill Broker Who Co-Led $2 Billion-AUM Int’l Group
After his termination last month from Merrill Lynch over allegations of undisclosed outside business activities, Miami broker Jorge A. Sonville has found a new home at independent broker-dealer Insigneo Securities.
Sonville began his career in 1995 at Merrill’s international office in New York and five years later helped establish the New York International Group, a Merrill team managing $2 billion in client assets, according to Insigneo’s announcement Monday of Sonville’s hire. He was discharged from Merrill in June and joined Insigneo in Miami on July 19, according to his BrokerCheck profile.
The 26-year industry veteran had participated “in a financial arrangement with a client and failed to disclose outside business activity,” according to a termination U5 form that the wirehouse filed with regulators this month.
Sonville had co-led the New York International Group with Ritchie L. Gomez and Edward H. Abitanta, who remain with Merrill and at the group’s helm, according to their firm bios. He moved in 2003 to Merrill’s Miami International office, according to the Insigneo announcement, which also noted that he had many clients based in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Neither Sonville nor his new firm returned a call for comment. Gomez and Abitanta, who had not been accused of wrongdoing, did not respond to requests for comment sent via social media for this story.
“I understand that today’s clients seek more sophisticated and complex solutions than ever before,” Sonville said in a prepared statement. “[A] truly open and holistic architecture is required where you are now sitting on the same side as the client, and where the solutions come from a global multi-custody platform like the one Insigneo provides.”
Insigneo, which focuses on international clients, has more than 180 financial advisors serving $12 billion in total assets under management, according to its website. It was founded in 2017.
Sonville had previously been singled out but not named as a defendant in a pending lawsuit filed last year by a former octogenarian client against Merrill.
That lawsuit, filed by Eduardo Tarajano, Sr., accused Merrill of failing to supervise Sonville, who persuaded the claimant and his spouse, starting in 2015, to invest almost $5 million, much of it from a trust set aside for their retirement, in a Key Biscayne, Florida liquor store that ultimately sold in 2020 for $585,000.
The lawsuit also alleges that either Sonville or his spouse held an undisclosed interest in the liquor store, which resulted in payments to them of approximately $70,000. Sonville also allegedly worked closely with Tarajano’s son, who received an ownership stake in the store, to “pilfer the accounts Merrill Lynch was managing” and Sonville’s cousin received a commission for the liquor store sale, the lawsuit said.
A Merrill spokesperson did not return a request for comment.
In November 2020, a U.S. District Court in Miami granted Merrill’s motion to compel Tarajano to arbitrate his claims and stayed the litigation.
On his BrokerCheck record, Sonville has listed as a disclosure the 2020-filed Tarajano claim, which it describes as a pending claim based on “an unsuitable investment recommendation and engaging in an undisclosed outside business activity from 2015 until 2020,” with $4 million in requested damages.