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Articles Tagged with investment fraud lawyers

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Investors who suffered significant losses as a result of the unsuitable recommendation of Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I from a full-service brokerage firm can contact a securities fraud attorney to determine if they wish to pursue legal claims through Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration.

An announcement from Behringer Harvard Holdings LLC stated that affiliates of Behringer Harvard and a board of directors special committee of Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I had entered into contractual arrangements, initiating the process of making the REIT self-managed. However, the management team for the REIT will remain basically unchanged. Five of the executives will become employees of the REIT instead of employees of Behringer Harvard. Furthermore, Mark T. Alfieri will replace Robert S. Aisner, who will remain an employee of Behringer Harvard, as the REIT’s CEO.

Typically, non-traded REITs carry a high commission, sometimes as high as 15 percent, which motivates brokers to make unsuitable recommendations to their clients. Non-traded REITs such as the Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I are attractive to investors because they carry a relatively high dividend or interest.  However, in some instances brokers have sold the REITs without disclosing the risks of principal loss and/or the fact that the investor’s funds may be tied up for several years due to the limited market for resale of non-traded REIT shares.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of individuals who suffered significant losses as a result of the unsuitable recommendation of non-traded REITs and variable annuities from Royal Alliance Securities- and LPL Financial-registered representatives.

Investigations into Unsuitable Sales of REITs, Variable Annuities by Royal Alliance Securities, LPL Financial Representatives

Reportedly, a claim has already been filed on behalf of one investor against Kathleen Tarr, a former representative of Royal Alliance Securities. Allegedly, Tarr recommended taking an early retirement option and then sold the investor unsuitable variable annuities and non-traded REITs. Prior to taking the early retirement option, the investor’s portfolio consisted of diversified retirement investments.

In addition, securities arbitration lawyers are investigating recommendations made by Brian Brunhaver, a former registered representative for LPL Financial. Allegedly, Brunhaver unsuitably recommended the purchase of the non-traded REITs, specifically Inland American and Inland Western, to a client. This client was seeking to make investments that would fund future college expenses. Because of the illiquidity of non-traded REITs, the investments could not be sold in time to meet the client’s needs.

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  Reportedly, 15 brokerage firms have been subpoenaed by the Commonwealth of  Massachusetts as part of an  investigation into sales of alternative investments to senior citizens.

15 Brokerage Firms Subpoenaed Over Alternative Investment Sales

The following firms have reportedly been subpoenaed: Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS Securities LLC, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Wells Fargo Advisors, ING Financial Partners Inc., TD Ameritrade Inc., LPL Financial LLC, MML Investor Services LLC, Commonwealth Financial Network, Investors Capital Corp., WFG Investments Inc. and Signator Investors Inc.

According to securities arbitration lawyers, the state sent subpoenas to the firms on July 10, 2013, requesting information regarding the sale of certain products to Massachusetts residents 65 or older over the last year. Nontraditional investments include private placements, hedge funds, oil and gas partnerships, tenant-in-common offerings, and structured products.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of customers of UBS Financial Services who were sold 100 Percent Principal Protected Notes. 100 Percent Principal Protected Notes were bonds or structured notes issued by Lehman Brothers Inc. Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in September of 2008, resulting in disastrous losses for many investors.

100 Percent Principal Protected Note Investors Could Recover Losses

Recently, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration claim was filed on behalf of a Texas investor against UBS Financial Services. According to the Statement of Claim, UBS Financial Services allegedly sold the investor, who was a brokerage customer of the firm at the time, $300,000 of the 100 Percent Principal Protected Notes.

According to the claim’s allegations, UBS was aware of the deteriorating financial condition of Lehman Brothers, but concealed its views from brokerage customers who owned the notes. Furthermore, UBS customers were allegedly kept unaware that the Lehman Brothers notes could quite possibly default and become worthless. In addition, the claim alleges that the sales of Lehman notes were halted twice by UBS Financial Services because of concerns regarding credit risk, but UBS did not disclose these halts to thousands of its customers who were already invested in Lehman notes.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of the customers of James W. Margulies and Scottrade Inc. in light of a recent Financial Industry Regulatory Authority decision. Reportedly, Scottrade has agreed to pay a fine of $100,000 to FINRA for failing to supervise Margulies, the former Industrial Enterprises of America Inc. chief financial officer, general counsel and board member.

Scottrade Fined for Failure to Supervise 8.4 Million in Sales of Unregistered Stock

Reportedly, Margulies was allowed to improperly sell unregistered stock to investors between February 2005 and October 2007. Securities arbitration lawyers say he reportedly sold $8.4 million worth of unregistered stock. According to FINRA, “Scottrade failed to conduct an independent inquiry to determine whether the shares deposited were freely tradable.”

According to investment fraud lawyers, Margulies was convicted in 2011 of stealing more than $20 million from investors and looting over $90 million in illegally-issued securities by the Manhattan district attorney. He reportedly used more than $7 million of that money for luxury items such as jewelry for his wife, a vacation club membership, expensive homes and travel on a private jet.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses as a result of the unsuitable recommendation of Lehman structured products. Recently, a securities arbitration claim was filed on behalf of a couple who did business with UBS Financial Services Inc. The FINRA arbitration was filed against UBS Financial Services and alleges the improper and unsuitable sale of Lehman structured products.

UBS Allegedly Made Unsuitable Recommendation of Lehman Structured Products

According to the Statement of Claim, the couple was nearing retirement and, therefore, wanted to preserve and protect their savings. Allegedly, they were presented with a written financial plan by UBS Financial Services that recommended an allocation of 52 percent equities and 46 percent fixed income for their “moderate” objectives and risk tolerance.

However, securities arbitration lawyers say the claim alleges that UBS disregarded the recommended allocation and concentrated the couple’s accounts in structured products and notes and equities for the “fixed income” portion. These investments allegedly included Lehman structured products, which UBS was aware carried significant default risk.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of Steadfast Income REIT investors. On June 28, 2013, Steadfast Income REIT Inc. was issued a cease-and-desist order by the Ohio Division of Securities for the announcement of price changes for the REIT 59 days before they took effect.

According to the order, “Steadfast’s decision to publicly announce an offering price increase 59 days prior to implementation of the price increase created a sale period that may have artificially increased investor demand for its securities.” The cease-and-desist order only orders a halt in the valuation price and does not stop sales of the Steadfast Income REIT.

On July 12, 2012, an estimated per share value of $10.24 was disclosed for the Steadfast Income REIT. However, securities arbitration lawyers say that the REIT continued to sell at the lower, $10 per share value until September 10, 2012. Reportedly, the announcement of a future valuation change harms shareholders by undercutting the investment’s current value.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of UPS employees who suffered significant losses as a result of their concentrated position in UPS stock. A recent securities arbitration claim was filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Office of Dispute Resolution on behalf of one investor against Wells Fargo Advisors, seeking damages of $4,000,000.

The claim alleges that the claimant, a 40-year employee of UPS, acquired more than 234,000 shares of UPS stock through the company’s Employee Stock Purchase Plan and Manager’s Incentive Program.  A Hypothecation Loan was allegedly opened to facilitate the purchase of the stock, which was used as collateral for the loan. Reportedly, the investor reached a Note and Security Agreement with Wells Fargo when he moved his hypo loan to the firm.

Allegedly, Wells Fargo did not recommend a risk management strategy, such as a protective put and/or collar in order to protect the investor’s leveraged, concentrated position. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo used the UPS stock as collateral for loans to the investor. When UPS’ stock suffered a significant decline that dropped its value well below the loan-to-value ratio, the collateral call on the loan could have been prevented by a protective put option or collar. However, Wells Fargo allegedly facilitated borrowing against the investor’s concentrated stock position, while it was unprotected by a risk management strategy, in an effort to make money.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses in the CommonWealth REIT. Investigations into the CommonWealth REIT began when allegations were made in a lawsuit filed by an investor in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts regarding false and misleading statements about the REIT’s prospects and financial standings that were allegedly made between January 10, 2012 and August 8, 2012. Investigations continue in light of a recent letter sent in June 2013 urging shareholders to vote for the removal of all of the REIT’s directors.

CommonWealth REIT Shareholders Asked to Remove Directors; Investors Could Recover Losses

The letter was sent by Corvex Management LP and Related Fund Management LLC. Corvex and Related are separately managed investment funds. Together, they own around 9.6 percent of all outstanding CommonWealth REIT common shares.

The letter from Corvex and Related states: “An outdated management structure, abysmal corporate governance, and mismanagement of operations have in our view been a significant driver in the 45 percent decline in CommonWealth REIT’s stock price over the last five years. We believe this continued value destruction is by design — the direct result of self-interested actions taken by CommonWealth’s current Board of Trustees and its external manager, REIT Management and Research LLC (RMR) which is owned by Barry Portnoy and his son, Adam.”

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of customers of JP Morgan Securities LLC. At issue is whether the customers received recommendations that were unsuitable or not in their best interest because of a JP Morgan policy that conflicted with brokers’ responsibilities to their customers.

JP Morgan Policy Allegedly Conflicted with Best Interest of Customers

According to a securities arbitration claim filed by a former JP Morgan broker, the firm allegedly “had a policy to only recommend in-house product to customers, irrespective of whether that product was the best choice for customers to meet their investment objectives.” Furthermore, the firm continued to discourage the selling of outside products by allegedly making it difficult for brokers to collect commissions and fees for those products. In addition, the claim alleges that the firm’s continuing insistence on the sales of proprietary mutual funds created a perpetual conflict between the firm’s policies and a broker’s responsibility to his or her clients.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority rules have established that firms have an obligation to fully disclose all the risks of a given investment when making recommendations, and those recommendations must be suitable for the individual investor receiving the recommendation given their age, investment objectives and risk tolerance.  The alleged practices of JP Morgan would have discouraged and/or made it difficult for brokers to act in the best interest of their clients.

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