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For Immediate Release
July 19, 2001

For more information contact:
Larry Dyekman
(312) 781-1372
ldyekman@nfa.futures.org or
Jennifer Bucko
(312) 781-1373
jbucko@nfa.futures.org

NATIONAL FUTURES ASSOCIATION PERMANENTLY BARS CHICAGO INTRODUCING BROKER; FINES CHICAGO FCM

July 19, 2001 - National Futures Association (NFA), a self-regulatory organization for the U.S. futures industry, permanently barred Top Step Trading, Inc. (NFA ID #289742), a former introducing broker NFA Member located in Chicago, Illinois, from NFA membership. NFA also permanently barred Richard B. Bertsche (NFA ID #256290), president of Top Step, and Peter F. Rondoni (NFA ID #266052) and Joseph C. Rondoni (NFA ID #281896), associated persons of the firm, from NFA membership and Associate membership and from acting as a principal of any NFA Member.

NFA's Business Conduct Committee (BCC) found that Top Step, Bertsche and Peter Rondoni placed unauthorized trades in customer accounts and exercised discretion over those accounts without having written authority to do so, and that Top Step failed to list a principal of the firm in registration filings with NFA. The BCC also found that Peter and Joseph Rondoni lied to participants in a commodity pool which they operated, and failed to cooperate with NFA in its investigation of this case. The BCC further found that Top Step and Bertsche failed to diligently supervise Top Step's operations and that Top Step failed to maintain certain required books and records.

In another disciplinary action, an NFA Hearing Panel issued a Decision against Aegis Financial, LLC (NFA ID #271161), a futures commission merchant NFA Member located in Chicago, Illinois, based on a settlement offer submitted by Aegis. The Hearing Panel found that Aegis violated NFA's Financial Requirements by failing to maintain required minimum net capital on a number of occasions during November 2000. The Hearing Panel fined Aegis $30,000, ordered the firm to transfer certain accounts and positions to another FCM, and imposed trading restrictions on the firm's proprietary accounts and non-customer accounts that are treated as part of Aegis' capital.

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