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Articles Tagged with Non-Traded REITs

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Inland American REIT has changed its name to Inventrust Properties Corp. In addition, the Company’s SEC fillings report a recent tender offer of $2.00 per unit from Mackenzie Realty. The $2.00 a share tender offer represents a sharp dropoff from Inland American’s initial offering price of $10.00 a share.

15.6.11 building explodesInland American is an enormous company- the largest of the giant non-traded REITS. The Company had raised a total of approximately $8.0 billion of gross offering proceeds as of December 31, 2008.

Inland American is a non-traded REIT, meaning that its shares are not listed on a national securities exchange. However, sales of shares in non-traded REITs, which file periodic reports with the Securities Exchange Commission as do listed companies, are not limited to accredited investors and shares are sold to the general public through brokers.

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses in non-traded real estate investment trusts, or non-traded REITs, in light of an investigation that is now underway by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities.

Pennsylvania Regulators Investigate Non-traded REIT Sales

Reportedly, Pennsylvania regulators are currently looking into non-traded REIT sales conducted by Securities America employees. Securities America is owned by broker-dealer Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc., which also owns two more independent brokerage firms. Ladenburg stated in its annual report that Pennsylvania regulators wanted to be provided with data regarding non-traded REITs purchased by Pennsylvania residents since 2007.

Securities arbitration lawyers are currently unsure if the non-traded REIT sales investigation will extend to firms other than Securities America.

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Our recent blog post, “Berthel Fisher and Affiliate Fined Regarding Sales of ETFs and Non-Traded REITs,” reported that in February the firm had been fined $775,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The FINRA fines addressed alleged supervisory failures, including failure to properly supervise the sale of alternative investments like leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs). One claim has already been filed by investment fraud lawyers on behalf of a retired woman in Minnesota.

Claims Against Berthel Fisher for Unsuitable Sale of Alternative Investments Begin

According to the claim, the woman was sold non-traded REITs and other alternative investments by Jonathan Pyne, a broker for Berthel Fisher. The claim argues that her age and low risk tolerance made the investments unsuitable for her. The investments included:

  • Inland American Real Estate Trust
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Securities fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of the customers of Berthel Fisher & Co. Financial Services Inc. and Securities Management & Research Inc., a Berthel Fisher affiliate in Marion, Iowa. In February, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it had fined the two a total of $775,000 for supervisory deficiencies. The deficiencies included Berthel Fisher’s failure to properly supervise the sale of leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds and non-traded real estate investment trusts.

Berthel Fisher, Affiliate Fined Regarding Sales of ETFs and Non-traded REITs

According to the FINRA investigation’s findings, Berthel Fisher did not have adequate written procedures and supervisory systems in place from January 2008 to December 2012 for the following alternative investments:

  • Non-traded REITs
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Securities fraud attorneys are investigating claims on behalf of customers who suffered significant losses in non-traded REITs as a result of doing business with Gary Chackman, an LPL Financial broker. In December, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Chackman for violating securities industry rules related to the sales of non-traded real estate investment trusts.

LPL Broker Barred for Improper Non-traded REIT Sales Customers Could Recover Losses

The alleged misconduct relates to the time period from 2009 to 2012, but Chackman was registered with LPL between 2001 and 2012. In 2012, his registration was terminated by the firm for violating the firm’s policies and procedures regarding alternative investment sales.

According to the letter of acceptance waiver and consent, Chackman “recommended and effected unsuitable transactions in the accounts of at least eight LPL customers, by overconcentrating his customers’ assets in [REITs] and other illiquid securities.” The letter, dated December 12, 2012, also states that by submitting falsified documents, Chackman “was able to increase his customers’ accounts’ concentration in REITs and other alternative investments beyond the allocation limits established by [LPL].”

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Securities fraud attorneys are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses as a result of the unsuitable recommendation of risky non-traded REITs and other products by their broker or financial advisor. Last month, another arbitration claim was filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority regarding such risky products.

Unsuitable Recommendation of Non-traded REITs and Other Unsuitable Investment Products

According to the claim, Paul Larsen, a financial advisor, liquidated the claimants’ mutual funds, blue chip stocks and fixed income investments. Allegedly, he told his clients he was doing this to get away from the market risk of these investments. Furthermore, he represented the replacement investments as safe and claimed they would generate income and were opportunities he offered to his “best clients.” However, the products he invested his clients’ funds in were risky, unsuitable investments including:

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Investment fraud lawyers are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses as a result of doing business with Surevest Capital Management and employees of the firm.

Alleged Unsuitable Recommendations of Non-Traded REITs by Surevest Others

Allegedly, Surevest invested some of its clients in high-risk portfolios, allocating very little of these accounts into traditionally low-risk investments. These high-risk investments allegedly included equities, non-traded REITs and other private placement securities. Some Surevest clients have raised allegations asserting that the high-risk investment recommendations were unsuitable and implemented regardless of the age, risk tolerance and other considerations of the investors. 

According to securities arbitration lawyers, 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. Non-traded REITs are inherently risky and illiquid, which limits access of funds to investors and makes them unsuitable for many individuals with conservative risk tolerances as well as those who need easy access to funds. Other private placements and equities also carry significant risks.

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Massachusetts securities regulator William Galvin today announced settlements with five leading stock brokerages to make $8.6 million in restitution to investors and pay fines totaling $975,000 in connection with charges that the five firms engaged in improper sales of non-traded REITs to investors.

The five firms that settled with Massachusetts are Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., Commonwealth Financial Network, Royal Alliance Associates Inc., Securities America Inc., and Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.

“Our investigation into the sales of REITs, triggered by investor complaints, showed a pattern of impropriety on the sales of these popular but risky investments on the part of independent brokerage firms where supervision has historically been difficult to monitor,” Mr. Galvin said in a statement.

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Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C., a New York City law firm handling arbitration claims on behalf of investors throughout the United States, has filed multiple Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) arbitration proceedings on behalf of investors who allege that registered representatives of LPL Financial Holdings, Inc.’s (Nasdaq:LPLA) brokerage subsidiary recommended unsuitable investments in non-traded REITs.

Suitability claims arise when stockbrokers or investment advisors recommend investments that are not appropriate for an investor’s financial circumstances, risk tolerance, or investment goals. FINRA Conduct Rule 2310 requires that Members and their Representatives have a reasonable basis to recommend a transaction or investment strategy suitable for the customer, based on information obtained through reasonable diligence and the customer’s investment profile. A customer’s investment profile includes, but is not limited to, the customer’s age, other investments, financial situation and needs, tax status, investment objectives, investment experience, time horizon, liquidity needs, and risk tolerance.

Cases filed by the Gray Firm allege that in certain circumstances, LPL lacked a reasonable basis to recommend certain non-traded REITs, including Inland Western REIT (now known as Retail Properties of America. As a private unlisted investment, Inland Western was a Non-Conventional Investment (“NCI”). FINRA’s Notice to Members 03 71 states that “since NCIs often have complex terms and features that are not easily understood,” there exists the potential for customer harm or confusion since investors do not understand the risks involved. Members must conduct appropriate due diligence/reasonable basis suitability before offering these investments to the public. Specifically the Notice states that when offering NCI investments, FINRA Members are required to:

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Raymond J. Lucia Sr., an investment advisor who hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show, has been accused of misleading investors with claims that his “Buckets of Money” strategy helps retirees “generate inflation-adjusted income for life.” The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) accused the San Diego radio personality of misleading investors by misleadingly exaggerating the historic returns and claiming that his “Buckets of Money” strategy helps retirees “generate inflation-adjusted income for life.”

Lucia, whose radio program is broadcast daily in most of the nation’s top markets, promotes his investment program at seminars held at upscale resorts throughout the country. Some of those seminars are reportedly co-hosted by financial columnist and actor Ben Stein, who has called Lucia “the best wealth manager I know.”

The SEC proceeding (Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings Pursuant to Section 15(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Sections 203(e), 203(f) and 203(k) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and Section 9(b) of the Investment Company act of 1940 (Exchange Act Release No. 67781, Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-15006 (“Order”)) alleges that Raymond J. Lucia Companies, Inc. (“RJL”) and Lucia presented materially misleading information at a series of investment seminars RJL and Lucia hosted for potential clients.

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