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Ex-Investment Adviser Loses Arbitration Claim Over Gold Exchange-Traded Fund
Ex-financial adviser Dawn Bennett is on the losing end of a $1M securities arbitration claim brought by a former client who claims that she recommended he invest in a gold exchange-traded fund. Steven Santagati brought his ETF securities case to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. He alleged failure to supervise, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.

InvestmentNews reports that in an interview this week, Santagati accused Bennett of taking advantage of his lack of understanding about “financial details.” Santagati said that Bennett leveraged his account and invested in risky investments, including the SPDR Gold Shares exchange traded fund.

Finra awarded Santagati $746K. Western International Securities, which was Bennett’s ex-brokerage firm, and her Bennett Group Financial Services are additional respondents in this case. They were found “jointly and severally” liable for the violations. In addition to Santagati’s award, they must pay $27K in expert witness fees and $252K in legal fees.

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China Medical Technologies Inc. founder and ex-CEO Xiaodong Wu and Ex-CFO Tak Yung Samson Tsang are charged with securities fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and securities fraud conspiracy. The two men are accused of bilking the company’s noteholders and investors of over $400M. They are now fugitives and live in China.

Investors thought they were getting involved in a medical device company that was listed on NASDAQ. Funds were supposed to be invested in China Medical or used to buy back existing debt. However, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Tsang and Wu misrepresented how proceeds raised via two note offerings would be used and then stole investors’ money. They sent the funds to entities that they were either affiliated with or controlled.

The indictment said that between 1/2005 and 11/2012, Tsang, Wong, and a co-conspirator ran this securities scam and made material misrepresentations and omissions about the investments. To facilitate their fraud, the then-executives caused a China Medical outside auditor and independent director to step down, ceased issuing public disclosures about how material events were impacting security values, and stopped paying interest on the notes.

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Ex-Oppenheimer Stockbroker Pleads Guilty in Insider Trading Case
David Hobson, an ex-Oppenheimer Holdings (OPY) investment adviser, was sentenced to six months behind bars for insider trading using information provided to him by a friend who was employed with Pfizer Inc. at the time.

Hobson pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against him. He was ordered to forfeit over $385K. His friend, Michael Maciocio, reached a plea deal with prosecutors for his part last year.

Hobson started insider trading in 2008 while employed at RBC Capital Markets and he continued with his illicit activities at Oppenheimer. He was Maciocio’s stockbroker.

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Voya Accused of Not Disclosing Revenue Received for Mutual Fund Sales
The US Securities and Exchange Commission said that Voya Financial Advisors (VOYA) would pay approximately $3.1M to regulators and investors for not telling customers about revenue the firm was paid related to a mutual fund program that didn’t bill transaction fees. Voya’s clearing broker-dealer paid the firm a percentage of the money made from the mutual fund sales. This was information that should have been shared with investors.

Also, since 2014, Voya and the third-party brokerage firm were involved in a separate agreement under which Voya provided certain administrative services in return for a percentage of service fees involving certain mutual funds. The regulator said that these payments were a conflict because they gave Voya incentive to preference these funds over other investments, which could have impacted what the firm recommended to advisory clients. As part of the settlement, Voya will pay about $2.6M of disgorgement, approximately $175K of interest, and a $300K penalty. The firm is not, however, denying or admitting to the SEC’s findings.

Fired Waddell & Reed Broker is Barred from the Securities Industry
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred an ex-Waddell & Reed Inc. broker from the industry. Paul D. Stanley was fired from the firm last year for allegedly violating its policies regarding supervision, compensation, and conduct.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to charge Navellier & Associates with fraud. The registered investment advisor, in a Form ADV brochure filing, disclosed that the regulator’s enforcement staff had preliminarily determined to recommend that the SEC file a case.

The Commission has been investigating advisory firms that marketed F-Squared Investments-related exchange-traded fund investment strategies. F-Squared Investments admitted that some of its marketing strategy performance records were inflated.

Last year, at least 13 brokerage firms and RIAs settled with the SEC for including the Boston-based firm’s claims in their own marketing collateral, including that the AlphaSector ETF strategy had been out-performing the S & P 500 for a number of years. F-Squared promoted the strategy as utilizing an algorithm that could indicate when it was time to sell.

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In Delaware Chancery Court, investors have brought a nontraded real estate investment fraud lawsuit against former RCS Capital (RCAP) CEO Nicholas Schorsch accusing him and his partners of enriching themselves by taking revenue from the publicly traded brokerage holding company. The plaintiffs are part of the RCS Creditor Trust. They are unsecured creditors who say they lost all of their investments with RCAP.

It was just last year that RCAP filed for bankruptcy after falling into millions of dollars in debt. It emerged as Aretec, the holding company that controls Cetera Financial Group.

The plaintiffs contend that Schorsch and partners Peter Budko, William Kahane, Brian Block, and Edward “Michael” Well took advantage of their authority at RCAP to enrich AR Capital, which was the nontraded REIT business that they wholly owned.

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Morgan Stanley Ordered to Pay $70M for Tax-Reporting Errors
In its yearly regulatory filing, Morgan Stanley (MS) announced that it took a $70M charge because of tax-reporting mistakes made by its brokerage business from ’11 to ’16. The firm is talking to the Internal Revenue Service to settle any client tax underpayments. Morgan Stanley said that some of its wealth management clients that may have overpaid taxes as a result of these errors and they would be paid back.

The firm also announced that it might sustain a $221.3M loss because of a lawsuit brought by Salzburg, the Austrian state, over commodities derivatives and fixed-income transactions between ’05 and ’12. Salzburg claims that Morgan Stanley did not having the authority or ability to make such deals—a contention that the latter disputes.

Trading Firm Accused of Manipulating US Markets
According to a complaint brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Avalon FA manipulated the US markets on hundreds of thousands of occasions, allegedly making over $21M in a layering scam. The regulator obtained an asset freeze against the Ukrainian trading company.

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The trial in which a number of hedge funds and creditors are partly blaming PricewaterhouseCoopers for the collapse of MF Global is about to begin in U.S. District Court in New York. The plaintiffs, alleging malpractice involving “erroneous accounting advice,” are seeking over $3B in damages. Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, also an Ex-Goldman Sachs (GS) co-chairman and formerly both a New Jersey governor and US senator, is expected to testify in court.

MF Global, once a global financial derivatives broker, is no longer in business. The firm failed in 2011 after customers left when they learned that Corzine had placed big bets on European sovereign debt during a volatile time for the markets. This caused a $1.6B shortfall in client accounts.

Yet, because MF Global employed repo-to-maturity instruments to bet on the debt, this let the firm report the bets as gains, which enhanced the way its revenue looked. Also, clients’ funds were commingled with MF Global’s funds even though they should not have been mixed together.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission is charging the partner of a Hong Kong-based private equity firm with securities fraud. The regulator claims that Shaohua (Michael) Yin of Summitview Capital Management Ltd. obtained over $56M of DreamWorks Animation SKG stock by using the US brokerage accounts of five Chinese nationals, including his parents.

When DreamWork’s stock price went up 47.3% after news that Comcast was acquiring it went public, the five accounts made $29M from the DreamWorks trades.

The SEC claims that Yin tried to conceal that he was in charge of the five accounts, which had addresses in Palo Alto and Beijing, but the regulator was still able to identify him as the one behind the suspect trading. Prior to becoming a partner at Summitview Capital, Yin worked for UBS (UBS) and private equity firm Warburg Pincus Asia LLC.

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Oceanografía, formerly the biggest oil and gas company in Latin America, is accusing Citigroup (C) of using it to detract from probes into the fraud involving Banamex, which is Citibank’s Mexican subsidiary. Oceanografía collapsed in 2014.

Citigroup is accused of granting a $585M credit line to Oceanografía so that the latter could get hundreds of millions of dollars in cash advances for work by Pemex, an oil company owned by Mexico. However in February 2014, Pemex notified Citigroup that about $400M in Oceanografía invoices, which were supposed to secure the cash advances, had been forged, possibly by a Banamex employee. Because of this, Citibank cancelled Oceanografía’s credit line and the oil and gas company collapsed.

Oceanografía maintains that it never forged the invoices nor did it have cause for such illegal action.

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