Unparalleled Representation
Unparalleled Results
Helping Investors
Since 1990
Our Commitment
Is Your Success

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought fraud charges against two men and their company, United Business Alliance, LLC, for allegedly running a prime bank investment scam. The regulator is seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

According to the regulator’s complaint, between 10/2013 and 7/2015, George Frank Polera and Anthony Joseph Marino, through United Business Alliance, took part in a fraudulent prime bank scam, raising over $615k from 10 investors. The two men lacked the registration required to sell investments.

The two men, who are based in Las Vegas, and their company allegedly promised investors huge return rates, including 90% every two weeks for 40 weeks on one investment and 84% per year on one note. Investors were sold securities that were either promissory notes or investment contracts.

Continue reading

Lawyer Barred Over Fraud Allegations
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has barred David Lubin, a New York-based lawyer, from practicing or appearing before the regulator and acting as any company’s director or officer. The regulator is accusing him of making misleading and false statements in corporate filings and committing fraud while he was the attorney and director of Entertainment Art. He was also the public company’s biggest shareholder.

According to the SEC’s securities order, not only did Lubin draft and sign misleading public filings, but also, he concealed their “true ownership” as well as that the fact that a significant chunk of the shares were of a “restricted nature.”

As a result, after Entertainment Art’s name was changed to Biozoom, over 14 million shares were resold illegally in an unregistered distribution, rendering $34M of illicit profits. At the time, the shares had belonged to a shell investor.

Continue reading

Michael Wilson has pleaded guilty to wire fraud. The 30-year-old former New York businessman bilked investors of over $10M in just two years through fake investment companies.

Wilson was indicted of 47 criminal counts, including money laundering, conspiracy, and wire fraud, in 2010. He was accused of trying to bilk investors between June 2008 and July 2010. Through the fraudulent investment companies, he persuaded other companies and individuals to invest in financial instruments that supposedly guaranteed returns and high-yield earnings.

In court this week, Wilson admitted to targeting rich, sophisticated investors. Some of his clients invested up to $250K as part of their initial investments.

Continue reading

In the US, former London traders Rohan Ramchandani, Chris Ashton, and Richard Usher have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges accusing them of conspiring to manipulate prices in the foreign exchange market. Ashton previously worked at Barclays (BARC) as the bank’s global head of spot currency trading. Ramchandani used to be Citigroup’s (C) G-10 spot currency trading head. Usher served a similar role at JPMorgan & Chase (JPM).

Prosecutors are accusing them of conspiring with other traders in a Forex rigging scheme to share sensitive client information through an electronic chat room referred to as the “Cartel,” as well as via phone, in order to quash competitors.

The criminal charges are related to a global probe into currency market rigging. To date, seven banks have paid approximately $10B fines over this type of manipulation, including Citigroup, Barclays (BARC), JPMorgan, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Continue reading

Ex-Adviser of Retired NBA Player Tim Duncan is Barred from the Industry

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has gotten a judgment barring former financial adviser Charles A. Banks IV from the securities industry. Banks, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud that involved bilking ex-NBA player Tim Duncan, was sentenced to 48 months in prison in criminal court and ordered to pay $7.5M in restitution.

Now, because he committed investment fraud, Banks is also banned from the industry, as well as prohibited from serving as a director or an officer of any public company. Banks also must pay a penalty, disgorgement, and pre-judgment interest.

This week, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) has agreed to pay the Federal Housing Finance Agency $5.5B to resolve the latter’s investigation into the UK government-controlled bank’s sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities to mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. RBS has come under fire for the way it packaged and sold subprime mortgages. The violations allegedly involved private-label residential mortgage-backed securities (PLS) trusts that were purchased between 2005 and 2007.

RBS will pay Freddie Mac about $4.5B and approximately $975M to Fannie Mae to resolve this RMBS fraud case. However, the bank is eligible for a $754M reimbursement according to certain indemnification agreements.

RBS had previously reached, for $1.1B, separate settlements over similar MBS fraud claims that the US National Credit Union Administration had brought in Kansas and California. It remains under investigation by the US Department of Justice and several US agencies who are conducting their own mortgage-backed securities fraud probes.

Continue reading

In Oregon, a district court judge has refused to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit accusing TD Ameritrade (AMTD), Integrity Bank & Trust, Deloitte & Touche LLP, Eisner Amper LP, and law firms Tonkon Torp and Sidley Austin of playing a part in the alleged securities fraud committed by Aequitas Management LLC, which is now defunct.

Over 1500 investors entrusted over $350M to Aequitas. They each invested amounts ranging from about $60K to over $1M in Aequitas funds, including the Aequitas Income Opportunity Fund II LLC that they now claim was a Ponzi scam.

Last year, in its civil securities case, the US Securities and Exchange Commission accused the Oregon-based investment group and three of its executives of concealing the firm’s financial woes while still raising millions of dollars. Investors thought they were backing investments involving transportation, education, and healthcare when their funds were allegedly being used to save Aequitas. Meantime, newer investors’ funds were also used to pay earlier investors in a Ponzi-like scam.
Continue reading

The Moore Charitable Foundation and Kendall JMAC, which are both owned by hedge fund billionaire Louise Bacon, have filed a securities fraud lawsuit against PJT Partners over the $16M loss that they claim they sustained in the Ponzi –like scam perpetuated by former investment adviser Andrew Caspersen.

The two entities want full restitution plus interest. They also filed a securities fraud lawsuit against Caspersen, who was a partner and managing director at the PJT Partners’ Park Hill Group when he defrauded investors.

Caspersen pleaded guilty in 2016 to bilking investors of $38M. He said he had a gambling addiction that compelled him to make up bogus Wall Street deals. He is serving a four-year prison term for his crimes.

Continue reading

A federal jury has found ex-American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP) Inc. CEO Brian Block guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and other offenses, and of submitting false certifications and filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Block was convicted of overstating the adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) at the real estate investment trust. Following the rendering of the verdict in the REIT fraud case, a lawyer for Block said that his client plans to appeal.

According to the US Department of Justice, an employee notified Block, as well as then-accounting chief Lisa McAllister about the funds overstatement before the first quarter results were publicly released in 2014. However, neither of them reported the error to auditors or to the REIT’s board. Prosecutors contend that Block tried to cover up the incorrect figures in financial reports for the second quarter.

The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed ARCP’s filings, reports that during 2014’s first quarter, McAlister and Block overstated the AFFO by over $12M and by about $10.9M during the next quarter. McAlister pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other criminal charges last year.
Continue reading

Former Citigroup Global Markets Traders Accused of Spoofing Arrive at Non-Prosecution Deals
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission has reached non-prosecution agreements with three ex-Citigroup Global Markets Inc.(C) traders. Daniel Liao, Jeremy Lao, and Shlomo Salant admitted to engaging in spoofing in US treasury futures markets while working for the firm. The three of them also provided information about misconduct that was committed by others.

According to the non-prosecution deals, each trader submitted big orders on the opposite of orders that were smaller with the intention of cancelling the bigger orders. They engaged in spoofing to fill their smaller orders at prices they preferred.

The agreements with the ex-Citigroup traders comes nearly six months after the bank settled with the CFTC allegations over spoofing and supervisory-related deficiencies. A number of unlawful incidents at Citigroup were identified in the non-prosecutorial deals.

Continue reading