Articles Posted in Morgan Keegan

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Investors who suffered significant losses as a result of their auction-rate securities investment with Jeffries Group LLC may be able to obtain a recovery via FINRA securities arbitration. Jeffries Group is a subsidiary of Leucadia National Corp., another full-service brokerage firm. Recently, Jeffries was ordered to pay an investor $7 million regarding an auction-rate securities dispute.

In May 2012, a statement of claim was filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority by Saddlebag LLC. The claim alleges that the firm wrongfully invested the client’s assets in illiquid auction-rate securities (ARS). According to securities lawyers, many financial firms sold auction-rate securities as short-term instruments with a highly-liquid nature, much like money market funds.

However, in 2008, the credit crunch resulted in a failure of the ARS market and investors with a piece of the $330 billion market were stuck holding securities that they were unable to sell. Other firms, including Morgan Keegan, have been accused of misleading investors regarding the liquidity risk of auction-rate securities.

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On December 17, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel reportedly sided with an investor against Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. Stock fraud lawyers say the FINRA arbitration panel awarded the investor $1.38 million in settling his complaint related to Morgan Keen proprietary bond funds called the Intermediate Fund. Of the award, $851,000 was for compensatory damages and $400,000 was for other compensation and legal fees.                                                                                     

Investor Recovers $1.38 Million from Morgan Keegan

The claim, which originally requested $4.3 million in relief, was filed in 2010 by Lawrence B. Dale, an investor in the Intermediate Fund. The award stated that Morgan Keegan allegedly “represented to the claimants that the (bond fund) was a safe and conservative investment.” Further allegations by Dale were that the Intermediate Fund “did not match Morgan Keegan’s misrepresentations, failed to disclose material information, misrepresented values, and invested in structured finance and asset-backed securities” that were unsuitable for Dale. The firm also allegedly failed to adequately supervise its employees, according to Dale.

Securities arbitration lawyers say that Morgan Keegan and Regions Financial have been facing many problems because of the Intermediate Fund and its blowup during the financial crisis. This fund was one of a group that saw a significant decline in net asset value in 2007 and 2008, reportedly between 60 and 80 percent. Furthermore, the firm was later charged by regulators with overstating the value of the funds’ mortgage-backed securities. The firm agreed to pay a fine to regulators amounting to $200 million in 2011. In addition, a civil complaint was filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against the funds’ former board members in December. According to this complaint, the board members allegedly failed to properly oversee the managers of the fund.

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Recently, it has been reported that the SEC lawsuit against Morgan Keegan & Co. has been reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta. According to stock fraud lawyers, Morgan Keegan allegedly mislead investors regarding its auction-rate securities liquidity risk. According to the federal appeals court, a trial judge previously incorrectly sided with Morgan Keegan that the verbal comments made by brokers to four Morgan Keegan customers were not “material” omissions or misrepresentations that would, under U.S. Securities law, make the company liable.

News: Lawsuit Against Morgan Keegan Regarding Auction Rate Securities Reinstated

Morgan Keegan’s office based in Memphis, Tennessee, was accused of securities fraud and sued by the SEC in 2009. According to securities fraud attorneys, the SEC alleged that from late 2007 through the ARS market collapse in February 2008, Morgan Keegan brokers told customers the auction-rate securities “were as good as cash” in an effort to increase sales.

Stock fraud lawyers know that auction-rate securities are tax-exempt, long-term and taxable bonds and their interest rates are connected to the short-term market. Through ARS, issuers can acquire lower short-term rates on long-term financing. Auction-rate securities were marketed as liquid cash alternatives and considered safe before the global credit crunch severely affected the market. As a result, many investors were left with securities that couldn’t be sold.

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According to investment fraud lawyers, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) will bring enforcement cases related to the selling of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that were not appropriate for customers, against certain brokerages. Bradley Bennett, FINRA’s enforcement chief, said this month that the cases will involve leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds, and the unsuitable sales of said funds. Furthermore, allegations of inadequate or improper training for brokers who sell exchange-traded funds will be involved in the cases.

FINRA Cracking Down on Leveraged and Inverse ETFs

Securities fraud attorneys say that leveraged and inverse ETFs amplify short-term returns. They do so by using derivatives and debt. These investments are more suitable for professional traders and are usually unsuitable for long-term retail investors. These investments only make up $29.3 billion of the $1.15 trillion United States ETF market. FINRA has raised concerns that these products are being sold to long-term retail investors, despite the risk involved when holding leveraged and inverse ETFs for more than one day.

“We don’t have a qualm with the product,” Bennett says. “We just want to make sure that people who are selling them understand them.”

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