Former Viking accuses Wayzata financial adviser of financial misdeeds

Former Viking accuses Wayzata financial adviser of financial misdeeds

Paul R. Koch, a veteran financial adviser in Wayzata, is under review by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority over allegations he made “risky and unsuitable” investments on behalf of a former Minnesota Vikings football player from 2011 to 2018.

The review comes after Koch’s former employer, UBS Financial Services, last December agreed to a $3.75 million settlement with a former professional football player who claimed $10 million in losses, according to FINRA records.

Charles D. Johnson, who was a wide receiver with the Vikings in the 2014-16 seasons, is believed to be the NFL player who received the settlement.

Johnson, who has a residence and business interests in South Carolina, filed a lawsuit in federal court there last year that accused Koch’s wife, Michelle Koch, of financial improprieties. Michelle Koch, according to the lawsuit, controls a company called MNK Holdings, which also was named as a defendant.

The suit said the couple invested Johnson’s money in businesses in which Michelle Koch had ownership interests, including a clothing store, hair-care salon and janitorial service.

The Kochs also are accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars for a condominium and luxury travel.

Brady Thomas, Johnson’s attorney, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Terrence Fleming, an attorney for Paul Koch, said, “The transactions were at the client’s request and with the client’s approval. Paul denies wrongdoing and is looking forward to his day in court,”

In a recent court filing, attorneys for Michelle Koch said the South Carolina case should be dismissed because the settlement with UBS Financial Services satisfied Johnson’s claims against her and Paul Koch.

Devean George, a former NBA player who is now a Wayzata-based housing developer, said he also was a client of Koch for “three or four years” after retiring from pro basketball in 2011. George said he left Koch over unspecified disagreements.

“I shipped my business elsewhere,” said George, a Minneapolis native and Augsburg University graduate.

Koch left UBS in late 2018 to join RBC Wealth Management, a Minneapolis-based unit of the Canadian financial conglomerate.

“We are aware of the FINRA and South Carolina court matters and note that they pertain to matters arising prior to his employment with RBC and do not involve RBC,” said Nicole Garrison, a spokeswoman for RBC Wealth Management. “At the time of hire, RBC was not aware of any of the allegations involving Mr. Koch.”

Koch leads an investment partnership at RBC’s Wayzata office that managed more than $350 million in client assets, according to RBC and an industry publication in 2018.

Koch has worked for several securities firms since 1987 according to FINRA records. Advisers such as Koch usually are paid up to three years’ past production when they join a new firm. The bonus technically is a loan forgivable over up to several years, as the broker brings in revenue.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144

Correction:
Previous versions of this story should have referenced a settlement by UBS Financial Services with a former client. The settlement was not in connection with a South Carolina lawsuit involving the same client.

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