The Ami Forte affair may cost Morgan Stanley an enormous fine of more than $400 million after being overcharged by his secret lover. The fine would be the result of a lawsuit filed against the bank by the widow of a multimillionaire client, according to Yahoo Finance.
Forte, an investment adviser with the firm, did more than sleep with Roy Speer, cofounder of the Home Shopping Network, who died in 2012. While Ami was secretly seeing Speer, his widow, Lynnda, says the bank overcharged her husband while he was alive.
Roy Speer and the investment adviser were seeing each other on a regular basis since 1998. A source present at the FINRA hearing says Morgan Stanley could be on the hook for a $400 million loss: $100 million in compensatory damages, and an additional $300 million in punitive damages.
The Ami Forte affair details came out in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) hearing taking place in Florida this month. According to an earlier report, Morgan Stanley believed it might be on the hook for a lot less — only $170 million.
The reason the fine may end being bigger than expected is because of a state statute in Florida, the Florida Elder Exploitation Law.
The law allows for punitive damages for exploitation of the elderly. Toward the end of his life, Speer suffered from declining mental and physical health, requiring him to delegate oversight over financial matters to others, including Ami Forte.
“We believe the claims are without merit and we are contesting them vigorously through the legal process,” a Morgan Stanley representative said in a statement.
Ami Forte is managing director at Morgan Stanley and was named the overall winner for Tampa Bay Business Journal’s BusinessWoman of the Year for 2013. Forte was also a winner of the financial services category.
Forte is the first female financial advisor in Morgan Stanley to be named managing director, a position that honors performance, corporate citizenship, mentoring and giving back to the firm and the community, according to submission materials. Ami has been named on Barron’s Top 100 Financial Advisors list and the Barron’s Top 100 Female Financial list, where for the past three years she’s been ranked No.1.
Ami has put been featured on a national stage in places like Forbes, BusinessWeek, Dow Jones Newswire and Fox Business News. Forte also sits on the board of Ruth Eckerd Hall and is a supporter of Children’s Dream Fund, The Hospice Foundation of Florida Suncoast and the Ronald McDonald House, among others.
“I think it is very important to give back, both personally and professionally. I have always been ready, willing and able whenever I have an opportunity to promote my firm, my industry and particularly women in our industry,” Forte wrote in submission materials.
Ami Forte oversaw between $155 million and $185 million of Roy Speer’s money and assets while he was alive, says a source who attended the FINRA hearing, which is yet to conclude. Business Insider sought Forte for comment, and she did not respond. At Morgan Stanley, according to her bio, “Ami is one of the few female members of Morgan Stanley’s Chairman’s Club, qualifying consistently since 2001.” Morgan Stanley’s Chairman’s Club is reserved for its top wealth-management advisers.
Forte also made the grade in investment publication Barron’s, which named her among its top-100 financial advisers several times. Ami racked up other accomplishments as well.
A source says that while Lynnda Speer was aware of her husband seeing Forte on a regular basis. She neither approved nor was willing to divorce him over Ami.
According to a source present in the hearing, it was acknowledged that the investment adviser “had a unique relationship with Mr. Speer.” The source added: “It was well known in the community that they were having an affair.” The Ami Forte affair wasn’t that much of a secret, although the company never talked about it.