Articles Posted in Illinois

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The State of Illinois Securities Department (“Department”) recently initiated enforcement proceedings against Thrivent Investment Management, Inc. (“Thrivent”) (CRD #18387) for allegedly violating the Illinois Securities Law of 1953 in connection with sales of unsuitable variable annuity (“VA”) products to certain of its clients who already held Thrivent VA’s.

Abstract Businessman enters a Dollar Maze.Specifically, the Department alleges that Thrivent violated the Act by “… replacing its clients’ existing variable annuities for new variable annuities which required the clients to pay surrender charges and various fees.”   According to the Department, possible violations of law in the case include (i) failure to maintain and enforce a supervisory system with adequate written procedures to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, (ii) failure to adequately review the sales and replacements of VA’s for suitability, (iii) failure to enforce its written procedures regarding documentation of sales and replacements of VA’s, and (iv) failure to adequately train its salespersons, registered representatives and principals.

Prior to 2012, Thrivent rolled out a new feature to its VA.  This feature consisted of adding a Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefit (“GLWB”) to the VA in return for a rider fee.  During the time period of January 2011 – June 2012 and July 2013 – June 2014, Thrivent allegedly recommended that certain customers purchase new variable annuities with GLWB riders to replace existing variable annuities, without performing any analysis of whether the customers would economically benefit from the variable annuity switch.  Some customers who were advised to switch allegedly would have received greater payments over the life of the policies if they had kept their original variable annuities in place.

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Stock fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses as a result of doing business with Bambi Holzer. According to a Forbes article, Holzer’s investment advice has resulted in securities settlements amounting to more than $12 million. Despite this article, which appeared three years ago, her trades are still being cleared by brokerage firms.

Bambi Holzer Still Trading Despite Numerous Customer Complaints

Currently a broker at Newport Coast Securities, Holzer has also worked with a number of other firms, including UBS, Brookstreet Securities Corporation, AG Edwards, Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc. and Sequoia Equities Securities. Holzer and UBS have already been compelled to pay to settle securities claims amounting to $11.4 million. These claims alleged that Holzer misrepresented variable annuities through misrepresentation of guaranteed returns. Holzer was fired from AG Edwards in 2003 for allegedly engaging in business practices that did not coincide with the firm’s policies. Further allegations against Holzer include misrepresentations while at Brookstreet. These misrepresentations allegedly occurred in 2005 at a Beverly Hills presentation at which Holzer allegedly stated that a fictional couple was able to make $9 million by deferring $732,000 in taxes through the use of trusts. In another claim, a customer of Wedbush Morgan Securities alleged breach of fiduciary duty, account mishandling, and breach of contract that allegedly resulted in damages of $824,000.

According to securities fraud attorneys, allegations against Holzer include fraud, churning, unsuitable investments, misrepresentations of fees, Securities Act violations, private placement-related fraud, negligent representations related to variable annuities, inadequate supervision, variable annuity-related fraud, negligent recommendation and sale of Provident Royalties LLC, negligent sale and recommendation of Behringer Harvard Security trust and other unsafe products as well as elder abuse.

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For quite some time now, securities fraud attorneys have been investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses as a result of their investments in Retail Properties of America REIT, formerly known as Inland Western. Reportedly, the chief executive of Inland Real Estate Group of Cos. Inc., Daniel Goodwin, recently expressed criticism about the Retail Properties of America Inc.’s IPO timing. A new lawsuit states that in January 2011, the REIT told investors before the offering that they could expect a value of $17.25 per share. However, at the time of the offering, the REIT’s shares, adjusted for the stock split, were actually only valued at $3.20 a share. This also was significantly lower than the $10 price which the majority of investors paid per share.

Retail Properties of America, Formerly Inland Western, Faces More Problems

According to Goodwin, Inland Real Estate Group of Cos. Inc. has no control over Retail Properties of America. Furthermore, when asked if Inland would join in the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois — which is seeking class action status — Goodwin said, “We have discussed various potential actions but haven’t reached a conclusion. Our interests are clearly aligned with the shareholders.”

Investment fraud lawyers say Retail Properties of America is the third-largest shopping center REIT in the nation. In April 2012, Retail Properties of America was converted to a publicly traded New York Stock Exchange company from a non-traded REIT.

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Investment attorneys turn their eyes to Bank of America once again, only two months into the New Year. Bank of America Corp. has been subpoenaed by William Gavin, the Massachusetts securities regulator, over LCM VII Ltd. and Bryn Mawr CLO II Ltd., two related collateralized loan obligations. These two CLOs led to investor losses totaling $150 million. The subpoena will, hopefully, help authorities in determining if Bank of America knew it was overvaluing the assets of the portfolios. Both Bryn Mawr and LCM were sold in 2007, prior to the 2008 merger between Bank of America Securities and Merrill Lynch.

News: Bank of America Faces More Allegations In 2012

Bank of America held commercial loans from small banks amounting to around $400 million in 2006. In 2007, securities packages were put together from these loans and then sold to investors. The subpoena arrives only one day after Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. settled allegations of engaging in abusive mortgage practices. These abusive practices included engaging in deceptive practices in the offering of loan modifications, a failure to offer other options before closing on borrowers with federally insured mortgages, submitting improper documents to the bankruptcy court and robo-signing foreclosure documents without proper review of the paperwork.

The settlement amounted to $25 billion and involved federal agencies plus authorities in 49 states. This settlement is designed to give $2,000 to around 750 borrowers whose homes were foreclosed upon after the home values dropped 33 percent from their 2006 worth, and to provide mortgage relief. In addition, all five banks will pay $766.5 million in penalties to the Federal Reserve. This is considered to be the biggest federal-state settlement ever. Bank of America will also pay $1 billion to settle allegations that it, together with its Countrywide Financial unit, engaged in fraudulent and wrongful conduct.

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