July 22, 2016

Employees of American Century and New York Life Sue over Excessive Fees with 401(K) Lawsuits

Another two asset management firms are the subject of separate (401)K lawsuits filed by their employees . The plaintiffs claim that American Century and New York Life, respectively, charged excessive fees in their retirement savings plans.

In Andrus et al v. New York Life Insurance Company et al , a class action lawsuit, plan participants in the the Employee Progress-Sharing Plan and the Agents Progress-Sharing Plan contend that New York Life and affiliated fiduciaries engaged in self-dealing when they kept a MainStay-branded S&P 500 index mutual fund i both retirement plans. New York Life and the subsidiaries own the MainStay brand fund.

The plaintiffs believe that they improperly benefited from “excessive fees and expenses.” They argued that because the defendants have a financial interest in the mutual fund, they neglected to look for lower-cost funds between ’10 and now. Instead, they kept the MainStay fund, which cost 35 basis points, in the two 401(k) plans. They say that this cost participants more than $3M. The plaintiffs are alleging breach of loyalty and prudence under ERISA.

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July 21, 2016

Following Securities Fraud Allegations, Visium Asset Management and Alliance Bernstein Reach Preliminary Sales Deal

Visium Asset Management has arrived at a preliminary sales deal with AllianceBernstein Holding LLP (AB). As part of the agreement, the asset manager will sell the Visium Global Fund, which was its remaining hedge fund. It was just recently that three of Visium's traders were accused of securities fraud, including the mismarking of securities, and insider trading.

This week, former Visium Asset Management portfolio manager Stefan Lumiere pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of taking part in a scam to bilk investors. The 45-year-old allegedly inflated a bond fund’s value while overstating its liquidity. The criminal charges against him are securities fraud, conspiracy, and wire fraud.

Last month, former Visium hedge fund manager Sanjay Valvani committed suicide after he was arrested for insider trading that would have occurred from ’05 to ’11. Prosecutors said that he used confidential information about drug approvals to make illegal trades. Valvani allegedly made $25M from the insider trading. Prior to his death he pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud, and securities fraud.

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July 20, 2016

HSBC Executives Are Charged with FX Rigging

US prosecutors have arrested HBSC (HSBC) executive Mark Johnson for his alleged involvement in a front-running scam. Johnson is the global head of foreign exchange cash trading at HSBC Bank, which is a HSBC Holdings subsidiary. Also facing criminal charges is Stuart Scott, who is the former head of HSBC foreign exchange cash trading for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He was let go in 2014. Johnson and Scott are the first individuals to face criminal charges in the forex rigging probe.

According to the criminal complaint, which charges the two men with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in 2011 Scott and Johnson inappropriately used information that the bank’s client gave them about a planned sale of one of the client’s subsidiaries. The client had retained HSBC to execute the foreign exchange transaction, which necessitated changing about $3.5B in sale proceeds into British Pound Sterling.

HSBC was supposed to keep the details of this pending transaction confidential. However, Scott and Johnson allegedly misused this information, buying Pound Sterling for the bank’s proprietary accounts, which they held until the transaction went through. This caused the transaction to take place in a way intended to compel the Pound Sterling’s price to jump up.

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July 19, 2016

SEC Advisory Committee Recommends Broadening Accredited Investor Pool

In a voice vote on Tuesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies is making a recommendation to broaden the criteria for which investors are eligible to purchase unregistered securities. Currently, an accredited investor that can invest in these securities must have made at least $200K/year for the last two years or have a net worth of at least $1M (the value of one’s main residence not included). Under the recommended broader requirements, investors who have a chartered financial analyst or similar credential, or who have passed the series 82, 65, or 7 securities license exams, would also qualify. The advisory committee wants to create a bigger pool of accredited investor applicants to help small companies raise more funds.

Although the SEC committee’s recommendation isn’t binding, SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said that it is important to modify the existing accredited investor definition. The Dodd-Frank Act requires the Commission i to periodically look at the criteria defining an accredited investor.

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July 16, 2016

Securities Fraud News: Union Pension Funds Settle Class Action Case for $64M, Deadline for Implementing Volcker Rule is Extended, and Ex-Panther Energy Trader Goes to Prison For Spoofing

$64M Pension Fund Fraud Settlement Reached Against Dana Holding Corp. Executives
Plaintiffs in the shareholder class action case brought against Michael Burns and Robert Richter have reached a $64M out-of-court settlement with the two ex-Dana Holding Corp. executives. The union pension funds include lead plaintiffs SEIU Pension Plans Master Trust, Plumbers & Pipefitters National Pension Fund, and the West Virginia Laborers Pension Trust Fund.

They accused Bornes and Richter, the company’s ex-CEO and CFO, respectively, of purposely misleading investors about Dana Holding’s financial woes in the months prior to its filing for bankruptcy in 2006. Although the securities fraud case was initially dismissed by a district court on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to show that the two men and Dana knew they were engaging in wrongdoing, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed that decision, saying evidence showed otherwise.


Federal Reserve Gives Banks More Time to Meet Volcker Rule Requirements
The U.S. Federal Reserve has extended the deadline for banks to rid themselves of ownership in certain legacy investments and cut ties with funds that are barred under the Volcker Rule. The rule, part of the Dodd-Frank Act, aims to stop banks with government-backed deposits from betting on Wall Street for their benefit. It doesn’t allow insured banks and their subsidiaries to own or be affiliated in any way with a private equity fund or hedge fund or take part in proprietary trading. Lenders are not allowed to trade using their own capital and are restricted from investing in funds.

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July 15, 2016

Hedge Funds Continue to See Losses

Bloomberg reports that in the 12 months ending in March 2016, funds of hedge funds lost over $100M due to poor performance and outflows. The figures come from eVestment, a research firm that examined data from over 2,500 funds.

According to eVestment’s report, over those four quarters hedge fund clients withdrew $50.3B, whiles managers reported $51.5B in investment losses. Assets in the hedge fund sector dwindled 11% to $841.6B. They have not been that low since June ’09.

Funds of funds invest in hedge fund portfolios. They used to be the largest single investor of these funds and at one point were accountable for nearly 50% of assets. Now they comprise just 28%, reports eVestment. Returns for funds of funds have not improved this year so to date.

Known investors that have begun to pull out significant money from hedge funds include the New York city pension plan, American International Group (AIG)MetLife (MET), and others. The New York Times reports that Larry Robbins of Glenview Capital Management and William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, two of the most well-known hedge fund managers, have lost money consistently. Viking

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July 14, 2016

SEC News: Regulator Approves In-House Enforcement Reforms, Adopts Guidance For Security-Based Swap Transaction Reporting, and Will Audit Financial Advisers Over Mutual Fund Shares

Securities and Exchange Commission to Audit RIAs Over Mutual Fund Share Classes
The SEC has announced that it will audit registered investment advisers so that it can examine the kinds of mutual fund share classes that they sell to clients. Share class recommendations and compliance are of particular interest to the regulator.

Because RIAs are fiduciaries, they have a duty to uphold their clients’ best interests. This includes selecting the lowest-cost share classes and 529 plan investments on a client’s behalf, depending on the latter’s investment goals. The Commission wants to see whether conflicts of interest exist, such as when an adviser is also the brokerage firm or is affiliated with a firm that garners fees from selling certain mutual fund share classes.

The SEC also wants to look at whether RIAs are disclosing if there is anyone getting paid compensation for the sale of either mutual fund share classes or other investment products. The fee might be a charge for the actual sale or a fee incurred according to the assets sold.

SEC Adopts Amendments to Regulation SBSR
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has adopted guidance and amendments for Regulation SBSR, which includes rules for the public dissemination and regulatory reporting of security-based swap transactions. The rules and guidance were created to enhance transparency in the market for security-based swaps. They were mandated under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

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July 11, 2016

SEC Bars Broker From Industry, Orders Her to Pay $4M for Inflating Firm’s Investment Performance to Bring In Rich Investor Clients

The Securities and Exchange Commission has barred broker Dawn J. Bennett from the securities industry. The regulator also ordered and her firm to pay over $4M in fines and disgorgement. The ruling was issued by an SEC administrative law judge.

According to the Commission, Bennett exaggerated her firm’s investment performance and assets under management so she could garner business from rich clients. Bennett is accused of promoting inflated assets to try to get high rankings on Barron’s top advisers list and using these rankings to retain new clients. She was named to that list three times as a manager who oversaw over $1B in client assets.

Bennett and her firm, Bennett Group Financial Services, purportedly claimed to be managing between $1.1B and $2B from at least ’09 through ’11 when, in reality, the firm never had more than $407M under management during that time period. The SEC, along with arbitration claims filed with FINRA, contend that at least two of her firm’s clients lost over $1M when they invested their funds with her.

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July 9, 2016

Four Former Barclays Traders Get Prison Terms for Libor Rigging

Four ex-Barclays (BCS) bankers who were convicted for conspiring to manipulate global benchmark interest rates have been sentenced to time behind bars for their crimes. The defendants and their prison terms are: Jay Merchant, for six-and-a-half years; Jonathan Mathew for four years; Peter Johnson for four years, and Alex Pabon for two years and nine months.

While Merchant, Mathew, and Pabon were convicted of their crimes, Johnson, a former senior dollar Libor submitter and the ex-head of dollar cash trading, pleaded guilty in the case against him in 2014. They all were charged with conspiracy to defraud involving Libor rigging to benefit their banks and one another as they defrauded others.

The judge who presided over the former Barclays traders’ case accused them of abusing their position, committing the offenses more than once over a significant period of time, and compromising the banking industry. All of the men will serve half their prison terms before being released on license.

The manipulation of Libor, the London interbank offered rate, and other benchmark interest rates led to a global probe that has resulted in hefty fines for the firms whose brokers colluded together to rig rates. In 2012, Barclays admitted that it let its derivatives traders rig Libor rates. The bank paid $450M to authorities in the US and Europe to settle charges. Collectively, the banks accused in the Libor manipulation scandal have paid billions of dollars in penalties. There have been at least 13 convictions.

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July 8, 2016

Insider Trading News: Hedge Fund Managers Charged in $32M Scam, Ex-Software Executive and Friends Are Accused of Making Over $500K, and Broker and Friend Allegedly Illegally Traded in Pharmaceutical Stocks

Hedge Fund Managers and an Ex-Government Official Face SEC Charges
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed insider trading charges in a $32M insider trading scam. According to the regulator, hedge fund manager Sanjay Valvani unlawfully made almost $32M in profits for hedge funds that invested in healthcare securities because he was privy to insider tips given to him by Gordon Johnston, who used to work at the Food and Drug Administration.

Johnston was no longer at the FDA when he purportedly gave Valvani the insider information, he but still had ties with former colleagues who worked there. He had gone on to work for a trade association that represents generic drug distributors and manufacturers but hid that he also worked as a hedge fund consultant and had access to confidential information about expected FDA approvals for certain companies to be able to make enoxaparin, which is generic drug that helps stop blood clots from forming.

Valvani would then trade before announcements about these approvals became public. The SEC further contends that he would share his tips with hedge fund manager Christopher Plaford, who purportedly made about $300K by insider trading in hedge funds. Plaford also is named in a separate insider trading case.

Pharmaceutical Employee and Broker Accused of Insider Trading
The SEC says that two Rhode Island men made about $448K in illegal profits for themselves and others while insider trading in the stocks of certain pharmaceutical companies. Michael J. Maciocio, who used to work as a planner for Pfizer, used his access to confidential business and clinical information about other pharmaceutical firms that his former employer was thinking of acquiring, or of becoming involved in business relationships with, to trade in the other companies’ stocks.

Continue reading "Insider Trading News: Hedge Fund Managers Charged in $32M Scam, Ex-Software Executive and Friends Are Accused of Making Over $500K, and Broker and Friend Allegedly Illegally Traded in Pharmaceutical Stocks" »

July 7, 2016

Goldman Sachs Settles CDO Fraud Lawsuit Brought by Basis Yield Alpha Fund

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Basis Capital’s Basis Yield Alpha Fund have reached an agreement to settle the $1B collateralized debt obligation fraud lawsuit brought by the Australian hedge fund against the bank several years ago. The Basis Yield Alpha Fund accused Goldman Sachs of making false statements related to its marketing of the Timberwolf, a mortgage-linked investment, and the Point Pleasant collateralized debt obligation (CDO). (The Timberwolf investment was named in the 2011 U.S. Senate report that found that Goldman misled clients about mortgage-backed securities.)

The Australian hedge fund, in its complaint, claimed that Goldman falsely claimed that the market for CDO investments had become stable even though it knew that was not the case. These particular securities dropped in value within weeks of purchase by the fund.

The Basis Yield Alpha Fund is convinced that Goldman sold the securities to rid itself of the toxic subprime mortgages while making money by shorting the securities. The fund sought repayment of over $67M it claims was lost by investing in the collateralized debt obligations, as well as $1B in punitive damages. Goldman, which argued that the fund’s losses were caused by the demise of the housing market and not because of any alleged misrepresentations, claimed that the Australian hedge fund filed its CDO fraud lawsuit to try to get the bank to pay these losses.

A federal judge had previously dismissed the case but the Basis Yield Alpha Fund then went to state court to sue Goldman. A judge denied the firm’s next attempt to get the complaint thrown and an appeals court upheld that decision two years ago.

Our CDO fraud law firm represents institutional investors and high net worth individual investors seeking to recover their investment losses. Contact The SSEK Partners Group today.

Goldman Sachs Settles Suit Over CDO That Became Crash Symbol, Bloomberg, June 14, 2016

Goldman Settles Mortgage Suit with Australian Hedge Fund, MSN.com, June 6, 2016

July 6, 2016

Securities Fraud News: Andrew Caspersen Pleads Guilty to $40M Fraud, Massachusetts Investment Advisor to Pay $8M to Investors, & CFTC Ordesr Florida Man and His Companies to Pay Almost $175M in Sanctions in FX Ponzi Scam

Ex-Wall Street Executive Admits to Bilking Friends and Relatives
Andrew Caspersen has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges accusing him of defrauding relatives, friends, and Moore Charitable Foundation of $40M. Caspersen is an ex-Wall Street executive and a member of the wealthy Caspersen family. The charitable foundation he bilked belongs to billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon and his investment firm Moore Capital Management.

Caspersen, 39, pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and one charge of security fraud. Each criminal charge comes with a maximum term of 20 years behind bars.

Caspersen's defense team initially argued that he was addicted to gambling and suffered from mental illness, which were what supposedly compelled him to run his multi-million dollar Ponzi-like scam. His mother, close friends, the family of an ex-girlfriend, and others were among those whom he bilked.

Continue reading "Securities Fraud News: Andrew Caspersen Pleads Guilty to $40M Fraud, Massachusetts Investment Advisor to Pay $8M to Investors, & CFTC Ordesr Florida Man and His Companies to Pay Almost $175M in Sanctions in FX Ponzi Scam" »

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