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Articles Tagged with securities fraud attorney

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Money in WastebasketOn July 27, 2018, two affiliated small business lenders — 1 Global Capital (a/k/a 1st Global Capital, and 1 West Capital (collectively, “1GC”) — filed for Chapter 11 protection in Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Florida.  Based in Hallandale Beach, FL, the two affiliated lenders are under the same common ownership and are in the business of purportedly providing small business loans known as “direct merchant cash advances,” to various clientele.  In connection with the bankruptcy filing, 1GC’s two primary executives, Messrs. Carl Ruderman and Steven A. Schwartz, relinquished their control over the company and tendered their resignations.

As reported, 1GC had around 1,000 individual unsecured creditors prior to filing for bankruptcy.  These creditors had loaned 1GC money with the understanding that these funds would then be invested in direct merchant cash advances.  Creditors received monthly statements which demonstrated how their investments had supposedly been allocated, in addition to being provided with an online portal to track their investments.

In total, 1GC has reported more than $283 million in unsecured lender claims.  Of the 20 largest creditors, all of them are individuals or retirement accounts.  Prior to the bankruptcy filing, the SEC had opened an investigation into whether 1GC was engaging in “[p]ossible securities laws violations, including the alleged offer and sale of unregistered securities by unregistered brokers, and by the alleged commission of fraud in connection with the offer, purchase and sale of securities.”  At this stage, both the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, which recently commenced a parallel criminal investigation, are investigating allegations of possible wrongdoing or malfeasance at 1GC.

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financial charts and stockbrokerOn October 16, 2017, NYSE Regulation — the regulatory enforcement subsidiary of NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE”) — filed a Complaint against Wedbush Securities Inc. (“Wedbush”) (CRD# 877), and its founder, Mr. Edward Wedbush.  The Complaint centers on Wedbush’s alleged systemic failure to supervise certain trading purportedly conducted by its owner and founder, Mr. Wedbush, who allegedly devoted “several hours each trading day actively managing and trading in more than 70 accounts.”

As alleged by NYSE Regulation, “Despite Mr. Wedbush’s active trading in dozens of customer, personal, and proprietary accounts, Respondents failed to implement any process to monitor or supervise Mr. Wedbush’s order entry, trade executions, or trade allocations…” in certain accounts controlled by Edward Wedbush (“Controlled Accounts”).  Further, NYSE Regulation has alleged that Mr. Wedbush utilized a separate trading platform only accessible to him and, moreover, “regularly instructed a Firm employee to enter orders under a general account, waiting until the end of the trading day to allocate executed trades…” among the various Controlled Accounts.  In this manner, as has been alleged by NYSE Regulation, Respondents’ practice of allocated trades in the Controlled Accounts at the conclusion of the trading day violated Wedbush’s own written supervisory procedures (“WSPs”).

By purportedly failing to properly designate the Controlled Accounts for which orders were being entered (and “[i]nstead allocating trades to accounts after the fact based on Mr. Wedbush’s discretion”), NYSE Regulation has asserted that such activity exposed numerous customers to a host of conflicts of interest, as well as “opportunities for fraud, manipulation and customer harm” in contravention of NYSE Arca Rule 9.14-E (Account Designation).  Additionally, NYSE Regulation has alleged violations of various NYSE Arca and Exchange Act Rules, including NYSE Arca Rule 2.28 (Books and Records), as well as Exchange Act Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4.  Among other things, these rules are designed to prevent against practices such as “cherry picking,” whereby traders choose to allocate the best performing and most profitable trades to certain accounts, to the detriment of non-favored accounts.

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woodbridge mortgage fundsIf you invested in Woodbridge Units or Notes, as further defined below — based upon a recommendation by financial advisor Frank Capuano — you may be able to recover your losses through securities arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  Publicly available information through FINRA BrokerCheck indicates that Frank Capuano was formerly affiliated with broker-dealer Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (“Royal Alliance”) (CRD# 23131) in Mount Holyoke, MA, from 1989 – July 2015.

Pursuant to an Acceptance, Waiver & Consent (AWC) entered into by Mr. Capuano and FINRA on or about May 2, 2016, the former Royal Alliance stock broker, without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, consented to a one year industry suspension.  In connection with the AWC, FINRA alleged that Mr. Capuano:

“engaged in undisclosed and unapproved private securities transactions.  The findings stated that he offered and sold approximately $1.1 million in notes to nine of his firm’s customers … The findings also stated that he received over $34,000 in commissions in connection with these transactions.  The findings further stated that he did not seek or obtain approval from his firm before participating in these private securities transactions, nor did he disclose them to his firm.” (emphasis added)

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Money MazeOn December 29, 2017, Life Settlements Absolute Return I, LLC (“LSAR”) – a special purpose vehicle investing in life insurance policies – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (Lead Case No. 17-13030).  The Debtors, LSAR I and its wholly owned subsidiary, estimate their assets to be worth between $10,000,001 and $50 million, and their liabilities to be between $100,000,001 and $500 million.  According to the Debtors’ First Day Declaration, the Chapter 11 proceeding was necessitated because “[t]he Insureds have outlived their actuarial life expectancy, thereby prolonging LSAR’s receipt of cash from the death benefits of the Policies…”  LSAR is wholly-owned by Attilanus, a Delaware limited partnership formed on January 29, 2004.

The primary risk associated with investing in life settlements (or viaticals) concerns the possibility that the insured (who has sold his or her life insurance policy to the investment sponsor) will outlive the money set aside by the sponsor to pay for continued life insurance premiums.  In such a scenario, the investors in the life settlements may then be called upon to pay future premiums in order to ensure that the policy remains in force until maturity.  When some investors refuse to pay, the remaining investors are left to cover higher premium payments, or else allow the policy to lapse.

Further, as appears to be the case with LSAR, when the sponsor can no longer afford to service the debt on its own credit facilities, then the sponsor may well be forced to seek bankruptcy protection.  As outlined in LSAR’s Chapter 11 First Day Declaration, “Beginning in July 2009, in order to fund premium payments on the Policies… LSAR (as the borrower) and the Employees’ Retirement System of the Government of the Virgin Islands (“GERS”) and Attilanus (as lenders) extended a credit facility to LSAR, whereby Attilanus made an initial loan to LSAR in the principal amount of $500,000 and GERS made a loan to LSAR in the principal amount of $1,160,263.”

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A FINRA arbitration panel awarded $1 million to an investor whose portfolio was over-concentrated in UBS Puerto Rico closed-end bond funds. The 66 year-old conservative investor reportedly “lost $737,000 of his nearly $1 million portfolio when the value of UBS’ Puerto Rico municipal bond funds collapsed in the fall of 2013.”

15.6.11 puerto rico flag mapWhen the client expressed his concern about his declining account, he was told “even a skinny cow could give milk.” The arbitration panel wrote that the investor’s portfolio was “clearly unsuitable” and provided a lengthy explanation for their award, which pointed the finger at UBS’s sales practices and alleged that brokers were under pressure to sell the closed-end funds and keep clients in them. The arbitration panel wrote that “Claimant’s lifetime pattern has been one of frugality, saving and employment of resulting capital and his own labor in business opportunities that he understands can earn a good return.”

UBS was ordered to pay $400,000 to buy back the investor’s portfolio and pay $600,000 in compensatory damages. The investor’s request for $1 million in punitive damages was reportedly denied by the arbitration panel. The FINRA award is accessible here ubs puerto rico.

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Securities fraud attorneys continue to investigate claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses in UBS Willow Fund investments. Despite the fact that many customers were allegedly told the fund was safe and low-risk, it suffered a decline of around 80 percent. In addition, the fund may have deviated from the investment strategy it originally disclosed to investors, and this alleged deviation may have played a significant role in the decline of the fund.

UBS Willow Fund Allegedly Deviated from Strategy, Declined 80 Percent Investors Could Recover Losses

Created as a private hedge fund in 2000, the UBS Willow Fund was sold by UBS Financial Services. Reportedly, an announcement in October 2012 stated that the UBS Willow Fund would be liquidated. On September 6, 2013, the fund’s shareholder report stated, “The fund does not hold investments as of June 30, 2013.”

It’s possible that UBS did not adequately disclose the risks of the fund when making recommendations. Furthermore, many of the investors who received recommendations to invest in the fund reportedly had low risk tolerances and were seeking stable income. According to stock fraud 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.

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Securities fraud attorneys are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses because of their broker or advisor’s unsuitable recommendation of private placements. In September, a new investor alert was issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) titled “Private Placements — Evaluate the Risks Before Placing Them in Your Portfolio.” Unfortunately, many individuals have already suffered significant losses because they trusted the unsuitable recommendation of their investment adviser.


A private placement, as defined by FINRA, is “an offering of a company’s securities that is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is not offered to the public at large.” According to stock fraud lawyers, private placements are generally only suitable for accredited investors. Accredited investors have a net worth exceeding $1,000,000 and an income of at least $200,000 (individually) or $300,000 (jointly with spouse).

“Investors should understand that many private placement securities are issued by companies that are not required to file financial reports, and investors may have problems finding out how the company is doing,” FINRA officials note. “Given the risks and liquidity issues, investors should carefully assess how private placements fit in with other investments they hold before investing.”

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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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Securities fraud attorneys are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses as a result of doing business with Thomas O. Mikolasko, a former HFP Capital Markets broker. Specifically, the investigations are looking into whether HFP Capital Markets provided adequate supervision over Mikolasko when he allegedly caused certain material omissions and misrepresentations of material facts to be made regarding the sale of “Senior Secured Zero Coupon Notes.”

Recovery of Losses Sustained in Senior Secured Zero Coupon Notes

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued an Order Accepting Offer of Settlement which stated, “Mikolasko was an investment banker at HFP who engaged in activity to facilitate the firm’s sale of $3 million in ‘Senior Secured Zero Coupon Notes’ sold to 58 customers of HFP for an entity known as Metals Millings and Mining LLC (‘MMM’). The notes defaulted and investors were not repaid either principal or a promised 100 percent return. Mikolasko allegedly caused material misrepresentations and omissions of material facts to be made in connection with the firm’s sales of the offering. Mikolasko also allegedly participated in various roles to facilitate the offering even though he knew or should have known that HFP had conducted inadequate due diligence concerning the offering and that the due diligence the firm had conducted identified significant ‘red flags’ as to the facts and circumstances of the offering.”

Mikolasko was suspended for 18 months from associating in any capacity with any FINRA member firm and fined $75,000 for his alleged conduct. However, stock fraud lawyers say that clients of Mikolasko may be able to recover losses through securities arbitration.

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Securities fraud attorneys are currently investigating claims on behalf of investors who suffered significant losses because their full-service brokerage firm-registered adviser engaged in “selling away.” Selling away occurs when an adviser sells investments without their firm’s knowledge or approval. According to stock fraud lawyers, firms have a responsibility to adequately supervise their registered representatives and can be held liable for client losses if they fail to provide such supervision.


Recently, Citigroup was found liable for $3.1 million in a FINRA claim filed by a Florida couple. The couple had filed a case in 2010 against Citigroup, alleging negligence and fraud involving more than $1 million in investments. The real estate investments were reportedly made from 2004 to 2007 in condominium developments and real estate projects. The couple’s adviser, Scott Andrew King, was registered with Citigroup from 2002 until 2005. King reportedly referred the claimants to Lawton “Bud” Chiles III without Citigroup’s knowledge. Currently, King works as a broker for Wells Fargo Advisors.

In addition, the claimants were reportedly included in a group of investors who signed personal loan guarantees connected to a $12 million loan to one of the real estate projects. When the loan entered into default, a $10 million judgment was entered against the group.  Reportedly, each investor named in the judgment could potentially have to pay the entire amount of the bad loan. The $3.1 million award includes $2.1 million to cover the plaintiffs’ share of the judgment and $1 million in losses. In addition, in the event that the couple is required to pay the entire $10 million judgment, Citigroup will be required to reimburse them the entire amount.

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