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Articles Posted in Morgan Stanley

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Securities fraud attorneys are currently investigating potential claims on behalf of investors who suffered losses as a result of their Facebook Inc. investments with Fidelity Investments. Allegedly there may have been execution problems at Fidelity Investments in regards to the Facebook stock. Reportedly, following Facebook’s initial public offering, “thousands” of clients of Fidelity were affected by trading issues.

Fidelity Investors Could Recover Losses Resulting from Facebook Stock

According to investment fraud lawyers, many Fidelity investors have learned that their Facebook stock orders were not executed at previously expected prices. In addition, some Fidelity investors decided to cancel their Facebook stock orders prior to the time it began trading, on May 18 at 11:30 am, but the stock was allegedly assigned to their accounts anyway. Many investors were confronted with margin calls that were unexpected because of Fidelity’s failure to honor the canceled orders. Securities fraud attorneys say this exacerbated the situation.

In a related case, Facebook Inc., Morgan Stanley and other banks are being sued by Facebook’s shareholders. The shareholders claimed Facebook’s weakened growth forecasts were hidden by the defendants prior to its $16 billion IPO. According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, changes in the business forecast during the IPO process were only “selectively disclosed by defendants to certain preferred investors.” The complaint alleges that “the value of Facebook common stock has declined substantially and plaintiffs and the class have sustained damages as a result.” A similar lawsuit was filed by another investor in a California state court. In the first three days of trading, Facebook shares declined 18.4 percent, reducing the stock’s value by more than $2.9 billion.

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ETFs (exchange traded funds) and ETNs (exchange traded notes) have recently gained a significant amount of attention in the securities industry. Securities fraud attorneys have been filing arbitration claims on behalf of investors who were unsuitably recommended ETFs or ETNs and suffered significant losses as a result. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has started to increase its efforts in regulating inverse ETFs and ETNs, hoping to ensure that unsophisticated investors are not being sold these complicated products.

Investors Could Recover Losses from their Inverse ETF and ETN Investments

In connection with FINRA’s efforts, UBS Financial Services, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. have agreed to pay $7.3 million in fines and $1.8 million in restitution, totaling $9.1 million. This will settle allegations that they sold inverse and leveraged ETFs to clients for which the investment was unsuitable. According to FINRA, these four firms did not have a “reasonable basis” for the recommendation of the securities to certain clients and also failed to provide adequate supervision. For more than a year, from January 2008 through June 2009, $27 billion in inverse ETFs were bought and sold by the firms.

With ETFs and ETNs now being recognized as a significant problem, we are likely to see more sanctions leveled by FINRA. According to stock fraud lawyers, the SEC ceased approving applications for ETFs in March 2010, when those ETFs used derivatives. Furthermore, the SEC indicated that it wanted to determine if leveraged and inverse ETFs warranted additional investor protection. There is concern, from both FINRA and the SEC, that inverse and leveraged ETFs are being confused with traditional, less risky ETFs.

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On February 9, 2012, ex-broker James Scott McKee was charged with aggravated theft in the first degree. As a result of his broker misconduct, McKee faces four charges of theft. In addition, a complaint has been filed against him with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). McKee was formally affiliated with LPL Financial LLC, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Berthel Fischer & Co. Financial Services Inc. According to the complaint filed with FINRA, McKee’s victims included a local church, an 81-year-old retiree and other unsophisticated investors.

McKee convinced an LPL client to invest $400,000. This investment took place in April 2007 and was put into a real estate venture. However, according to the FINRA complaint, McKee failed to notify or receive approval from LPL for the venture. Following a heart attack, which subjected the investor to significant medical expenses, she contacted McKee to have her money returned. McKee received two checks for $200,000 in February 2008 but failed to return the money to the investor. Instead, he told the client the funds remained invested and then used them for his own use. The money has not yet been returned to the client.

According to the police statement on the matter, McKee “committed aggravated theft by deception and fraud with respect to securities or securities business” from February 2008 to the present. According to Oregon officials, McKee sold unregistered securities, conducted unauthorized liquidation of investment account monies, concealed the liquidation and made an unauthorized deposit of said funds into his personal bank account.

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On December 14, 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, also known as BNY Mellon, in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit was filed for the class period of February 28, 2008, to August 11, 2011. Investment attorneys are encouraging individuals who acquired BNY Mellon stock through personal investment, inheritance or employment to explore possible securities arbitration claims as a means of recovering losses.

BNY Mellon Investors Seeking Investment Attorneys for Securities Arbitration Claims

Underwriters named in the lawsuit include BNY Mellon Capital, Barclays, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, UBS and Morgan Stanley. Under Section 11 and Section 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, underwriters of public offerings may be held liable if they fail to conduct a due diligence investigation of the information provided in prospectuses and registration statements.

The class action lawsuit states that, “The Underwriter Defendants underwrote BNY Mellon’s May 11, 2009 and/or June 3, 2010 common stock offering which were conducted pursuant to materially false and misleading offering materials and are charged with violations of the Securities Act in their capacity as underwriters for such offering.” Furthermore, allegations of the class action state that “throughout the Class Period, defendants concealed and failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company’s financial well-being, business relationships, and prospects,” and goes on to claim that as a result of the wrongful acts and omissions of the defendants, combined with the “precipitous decline” of the common stocks’ market value that resulted from the disclosure of a FX trading scheme, investors suffered damages.

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The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), acting as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has filed securities lawsuits against a total of 17 financial entities in both federal and state courts. States in which the lawsuits were filed are New York and Connecticut. Financial institutions affected by the lawsuits, which were filed in September 2011, include Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Countrywide, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank. These institutions, along with 8 others, violated federal securities and common laws when selling mortgage-backed securities. This is not the first time many of these financial institutions have been charged with securities fraud, and investment attorneys are doubtful that it will be the last.

The FHFA is seeking civil penalties as well as damages. Allegedly, the financial institutions violated fiduciary duty by providing misleading loan descriptions as a part of their sales and marketing materials. The marketing materials did not reveal the true risk factors associated with the loans. According to the FHFA’s press release, “Based on our review, FHFA alleges that the loans had different and more risky characteristics than the descriptions contained in the marketing and sales materials provided to the Enterprises for those securities.”

Congress and regulators have put forth a continuing effort to deal with the practices of institutions that led to the financial crisis of 2008 and this lawsuit is part of that goal. It is similar to the one filed on July 27, 2011 against UBS Americas Inc. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 gives the FHFA the authority to file complaints such as this one.

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According to a recent press release from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc. and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, together were fined $1 million in securities arbitration. Furthermore, Morgan Stanley was ordered to pay $371,000 in restitution and interest. The restitution and interest will go to Morgan Stanley customers because of supervision violations and excessive markups and markdowns that were charged on their municipal bond transactions.

Morgan Stanley Fined $1 Million, Plus Restitution

Markups refer to the difference between the lowest current offering price of an investment for the dealer and the actual price the dealer charges the customer. According to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, or MSRB, “MSRB rules require that the price at which a broker-dealer sells a municipal security to a customer be fair and reasonable, taking into consideration all relevant factors.” Though the MSRB does not set numerical guidelines for what constitutes a “reasonable” markup, they do acknowledge that whether the total price paid by the customer can be considered “fair and reasonable” can be affected by the mark-up.

According to FINRA’s investigation, Morgan Stanley’s 5 percent to 13.8 percent markups and markdowns were higher than warranted when considering market conditions, value of services rendered to customers and the cost of executing the transactions. In addition, the supervisory system Morgan Stanley had in place for corporate and municipal bond markups and markdowns was found to be inadequate by FINRA. Inadequacies of the supervisory system included a failure to include markups and markdowns less than 5 percent — regardless of if they were excessive or not — and the firms’ policies and procedures.

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InvestigatingWe are investigating former Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial adviser Roger Haigney for possibly misappropriating funds from clients.  Mr. Haigney operated out of a branch office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida but worked with customers in New York and possibly other places.

If you’ve lost money because of Mr. Haigney, you can contact us at for a free, confidential consultation.  We may be able to help.

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Ryan Kimura, a former Morgan Stanley Dean Witter stockbroker in Honolulu, Hawaii, was sentenced to 57 months in prison. In addition, he will pay $1.5 million to Morgan Stanley and over $500,000 plus interest to the Internal Revenue Service. Payment to the IRS will cover tax losses from 2000-2007. Kimura was charged with money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud and filing a federal tax return that was incorrect.

Honolulu stock broker sentenced for fraud

Kimura was previously barred from associating with any member of FINRA in 2009. Kimura worked with Morgan Stanley until May 2006 and then with Sun Life Financial Distributors until December 2007.

Kimura’s former wife’s mother, her grandmother, her sister, her father and her father’s company were all victims of his fraud. Kimura took money from his father-in-law’s Japan-based company without permission and subsequently lost around $360,000 trading its stock. He also forged signatures on 206 checks, stealing a total of $1.5 million through these forgeries.

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Jennifer Kim, an ex-Morgan Stanley trader, will pay $25,000 and is barred from broker-dealer association for three years in her settlement with the SEC regarding its claim that she concealed trades and falsified books. The firm’s risk limits were exceeded by the proprietary trades she concealed, intending to cancel the swap orders almost immediately. This action “tricked” the firm’s monitoring systems, allowing the swaps to go through. At this time, Kim was acting as the risk manager for both her trading account and her supervisor’s proprietary account.

Jennifer Kim Settles SEC Claim

In late September 2009, Larry Feinblum, Jennifer Kim’s immediate supervisor at the Swaps Desk, was told by his supervisor that their net risk position in the Wipro account was too high at $20 million, and should not be increased. Regardless, by October 6 Winpro’s net aggregate risk had reached $50 million. Kim and Feinblum brought the risk position down again, but by November, it had increased once more to $30 million and the two devised a scheme in which they booked swaps that would reduce the net risk position, falsely verified them, and then canceled the swaps, returning the risk to its higher position. In this way, they were able to fool the firm’s risk assessment program into believing the account was within acceptable risk limitations.

On December 16, 2009, the misconduct of Kim and Feinblum was exposed when Feinblum admitted to his supervisor that in only one day he had lost $7 million. Furthermore, on December 17, he admitted that he, along with Kim, had hidden exceeded risk limits. As a result of this confession, Feinblum and Kim were subsequently terminated on January 4, 2010. Feinblum settled for $150,000 on May 31 for related claims.

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