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The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has decided that the shareholder lawsuit brought against Goldman Sachs (GS) for its high-risk subprime securities leading up to the 2008 financial crisis cannot move forward as a class action securities fraud case. The court said that a lower court judge had put too much of a burden on the bank by mandating that it prove that the misleading statements and conflicts of interest alleged by the plaintiffs did not affect its stock price. Shareholders, however, are allowed to pursue shareholders class certification again.

The plaintiffs contend that between 2007 and the middle of 2010, they lost over $13B because the Wall Street bank was not forthcoming about being able to deal with certain conflicts. They accused Goldman Sachs of hiding short positions made in a number of subprime mortgage collateralized debt obligations, including the:

  • Timberwolf
  • Anderson Mezzanine Funding 2007-1
  • Abacus 2007 AC-1
  • Hudson Mezzanine Funding 2006-1

 

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A criminal indictment has been issued against Robert Bogucki, Barclays’ (BARC) ex-foreign exchange operation head in New York. Bogucki, who is a Barclay’s trader but has been on leave since late 2016, is accused of involvement in a scam to bilk one of the bank’s clients by engaging in front-running. This type of activity usually involves using advance knowledge about an upcoming order and trading in a way to profit from this information.

The criminal charges against Bogucki include multiple counts of wire fraud and a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His indictment alleges that in 2011, the ex-Barclays forex trader improperly used the information provided by Barclays’ client Hewlett-Packard Company prior to a significant trade. HP had retained the bank to execute the forex transaction, which involved $8.3B of forex options, and that was tied to plans to acquire another company.

Bogucki and others allegedly used the information given to them by HP to manipulate the “volatility’s” price so as to lower the price of the company’s options. The alleged fraud is said to have caused HP millions of dollars in losses.

“Volatility” is the metric that impacts forex options. Barclays is accused of making misrepresentations to Hewlett-Packard so as to benefit the bank.

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The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of an investment adviser who is challenging the liability findings against him in a securities fraud case presided over by a US Securities and Exchange Commission administrative law judge (ALJ). Raymond Lucia, also a former radio host, was accused of misleading prospective investors about his “Buckets of Money” investment strategy by claiming the methodology he used was back-tested when that was not the case. This created a false sense of security especially among retirees who were told that their money would grow.

An SEC ALJ found him liable for fraud, including that he violated the Investment Advisers Act. Lucia was not only barred from the securities industry but also ordered to pay a $300K fine. He appealed the ruling.

Lucia also questioned whether it was constitutional for the SEC to hire administrative law judges and if they should instead by appointed rather than brought in through human resources. In 2016, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit turned down Lucia’s appeal, finding that contrary to his contention, SEC judges are not officers with the power to make decisions but are, in fact, employees. Also, the Commission has to approve their rulings.

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Meyers Associates is Fined by FINRA Over Misleading Sales Literature
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering Meyers Associates, now called Windsor Street Capital, to pay a $75K fine for a number of securities violations, including sending sales literature that was misleading via email and not supervising books and records preparations. The firm’s principal, Bruce Meyers, is now barred from working as a firm supervisor or principal.

According to the regulator’s National Adjudicatory Council, Meyers Association has been named in 16 disciplinary actions this century. It paid about $390K in sanctions for different issues, including issuing false statements, supervisory deficiencies, omissions related to a securities offering, improper review of emails, inadequate maintenance of books and records, and not reporting customer complaints in a timely manner. Last year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission turned down Meyers’ appeal of a FINRA securities ruling that prevented him from serving as firm CEO.

Ex-RBS Trader Banned and Fined £250,000 for Manipulating Libor
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has banned ex-Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) trader Neil Danzinger from the securities industry and ordered him to pay a $338,000 over allegations that he rigged the London interbank offered rate (Libor). According to the regulator, Danziger, a former RBS interest rate derivatives trader, “routinely” asked RBS Libor submitters to modify the rate to benefit his trading positions. He also allegedly factored in certain trading positions when serving as a submitter and on more than one occasion got a broker to help him to rig other banks’ yen Libor submissions.

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In its complaint, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has submitted a civil junctive action accusing Malachi Financial Products, Inc. and its principal Porter B. Bingham, of municipal bank fraud targeting Rolling Fork, Mississippi. According to the regulator, Malachi and Bingham charged the city too much for municipal advisory services involving a muni bond offering from October 2015.

Rolling Fork had hired Malachi in the capacity of municipal adviser in 2015 because of a proposed bond offering to pay for a number of improvement projects in the city. The SEC contends that after the closing of the offering, the firm and its principal submitted two invoices to the bond trustee, one—for $33,000—was for services that were never rendered and had never been authorized by the Mississippi city. The other, for $22K, was in line with what Malachi and Rolling Fork had agreed upon.

Bingham purportedly did not disclose to Rolling Fork that he had received $2,500 from Anthony Stovall, who worked for Bonwick Capital Partners. LLC, prior to Malachi recommending to the city that it retain Stovall’s firm as an underwriter for the bond offering. Rolling Fork went on to hire the underwriting firm because of the recommendation.

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Ex-Och Ziff Hedge Fund Executive Indicted in NY Over Alleged Africa Investment Fraud
A grand jury in Brooklyn, NY has indicted Michael Cohen, the ex-head of Och Ziff Capital Management’s European operations on fraud, conspiracy, and other criminal charges. According to prosecutors, Cohen hid a conflict of interest involving a mining company investment and defrauded an institutional client.

The ex-Och Ziff hedge fund executive and his former company are accused of making representations to a UK foundation that then agreed to invest up to $200M in a joint African venture in 2008. Cohen, who allegedly used the joint venture fund to purchase stock from someone who had borrowed money from him for a yacht, is accused of failing to disclose his own stake in the investment. Meantime, the person whom, CNBC reports, owed Cohen money, allegedly used funds from the stock purchase to pay him back $4M.

Cohen is accused of trying to conceal the investment scam by generating a bogus letter and making statements to the SEC, IRS, and FBI that were “materially false.”

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Ex-CFO of ArthroCare Gets Prison Term for $750M Securities Fraud
Michael Gluck, the ex-CFO of ArthroCare Corp., is sentenced to over four years in prison for his role in a $750M financial fraud. Gluk pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud last year.

Gluk, ex-ArthroCare CEO Michael Baker, and others are accused of artificially inflating revenue and sales in an effort to keep the medical device company’s stock price up. As a result, shareholders sustained more than $750M in losses.

Baker was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. Gluk had previously been sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted in 2014 for his role in the scam. However, a federal appeals court overturned the conviction, hence his new plea agreement and sentence. He also must forfeit nearly $678K and pay a $50K fine.

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The US Securities and Exchange Group announced that Khaled Bassily, the ex-head of ConvergEx Groups’ transition management business, has settled institutional investor fraud charges accusing him of taking part in a scam to hide from certain clients, which included religious organizations, retirement funds, and charities, that they were paying substantially more than they thought for trading orders. Bassily, who agreed to pay more than $988K in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, plus a civil penalty, settled the case without denying or admitting to the charges.

The regulator brought the case against him in 2016. According to its complaint, over five years, Basily hid from transition management customers that their brokerage orders were being directed to an offshore affiliate where concealed charges were put into the price that they paid for selling and purchasing securities. These secret charges were an add on and frequently much higher than the commissions that customers paid for their orders. For example, stated the SEC’s complaint, one customer who paid $699K in commissions also paid $9.6M in these hidden fees.

Meantime, Bassily allegedly engaged in deceptive practices, including “false and misleading statements” to customers, working with traders to maximize theses hidden charges, and taking steps to hide these unauthorized charges from customers.

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According to Reuters, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS) has settled a mortgage-backed securities fraud case brought by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) for $125M. The settlement resolves claims alleging that the bank made misrepresentations when selling MBSs to the pension funds, which contend that they sustained millions of dollars in losses as a result.

According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a probe by his office determined that the descriptions the firm provided to investors “failed to accurately disclose the true characteristics” of many of the mortgages backing the securities, but that RBS, which knew about the alleged misrepresentations, did nothing to remedy them. The state AG’s investigation also found that RBS did not conduct the necessary due diligence to eliminate the loans that were of “poor quality.” Becerra contends that RBS purposely misled CalPERS and CalSTRS to enrich itself. He noted that the MBS fraud settlement gives back the money to the pension funds that the bank “wrongfully took” from them.

Already, The California AG’s office has gotten back more than $1B over securities that were sold to the state’s public pension funds, which sustained losses during the economic crisis of 2008. Last year, $150M was recovered from Moody’s, the credit rating agency. In 2015, $210M was recovered from another credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s. Other banks to have settled include Citigroup (C) for $102M, Bank of America for $300M and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) for $300M.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against Train Babcock Advisors LLC, lawyer Robert Gaughran, and accountant Kevin Clune related to an over $9M institutional fraud targeting a charitable foundation set up by an elderly widow in 1991. The organization, which focuses on improving healthcare and education, was set up using assets from her estate after she died in 2001.

To resolve the civil charges, Train Babcock Advisors will pay over $1.7M in disgorgement plus interest and penalties. It also has consented to withdrawing its SEC registration as an investment adviser. The firm is in the process of shutting down operations.

The $9M fraud was masterminded by former Train Babcock Advisors John Rogicki, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges in October. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to 30 to 90 months behind bars. Rogicki was also ordered to pay the foundation over $6.7M.

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