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A federal grand jury has indicted two men for their alleged involvement in a nearly $230M financial scam involving biotech companies. G. Steven Burrill, the owner and CEO of Burrill & Company, and Marc Howard Berger are the two defendants named in the criminal indictment. Burrill is charged with 26 counts of wire fraud, one count of investment adviser fraud, and one count of tax evasion. Berger is charged with multiple accounts of aiding in preparing fraudulent tax returns.

According to the criminal indictment, Burrill send letters that were false and misleading to persuade limited partners to give capital to the fund. He also allegedly moved millions of dollars in unnecessary management fees to companies under his control, as well as submitted the allegedly fraudulent tax returns.

It was in March of last year that Burrill settled civil charges brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission accusing him of taking funds from the Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III in order to maintain his expensive lifestyle and keep some of his other businesses in operation. The regulator claimed that Burrill took from the Fund III and pretended that these were management fees he was issuing to himself in advance. He then allegedly went on to spend the money on vacations, jewelry, private planes, and other expenses.

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A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority extended hearing panel has ordered brokerage firm C.L. King & Associates, Inc. to pay a $750,000 for purportedly acting negligently by making material representations and omissions to issuers in connections with debt securities redemptions for a hedge fund customer. The panel said that the broker-dealer and Gregg Alan Miller, its Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer, did not put into place a reasonable AML program and failed to adequately react to red flags indicating that the liquidation of billions of penny stock shares involving two customers might be signs of suspect activity. Miller has been suspended from fulfilling a principal role for half a year and he must pay a $20K fine.

Per the hearing panel’s ruling, the hedge fund’s manager set up joint accounts at the firm. A number of terminally ill people were given joint tenancy with survivorship rights to the accounts and they were paid $10K, after which they gave up their ownership rights to the assets in the accounts.

The accounts were used to buy corporate bonds at reduced rates that came with a survivor option. This feature made it possible for the manager, as the survivor of the joint account, to redeem investments from issuers through the brokerage firm for the full principal figure prior to maturity once the joint tenant had died. The FINRA panel said that CL King had a duty to let issuers know when the redemption process was taking place that the joint tenants that were terminally ill and not beneficiaries of the investments.

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The U.S. Justice Department has filed a civil securities fraud case against Paul Mangione, a former senior Deutsche Bank (DB) trader. According to the government, Mangione, who headed up the bank’s subprime trading, took part in a fraudulent scam that involved misrepresenting the loans backing two residential mortgage-backed securities that the bank was selling, resulting in investors losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

The DOJ’s RMBS fraud complaint contends that Mangione committed fraud when selling the ACE 2007-HE5 and ACE 2007-HE4, which were $400M and $1B securities, respectively. He allegedly did this by misleading investors about the loans backing the investments and the originating practices of DB Home Lending, which is a Deutsche Bank subsidiary and was the primary loan originator.

According to the US government, the former Deutsche Bank head trader “fraudulently induced” different investors, including financial institutions, pension plans, government-sponsored editions, and religious organizations, to invest almost $1.5B in the two RMBSs, resulting in “extraordinary losses” for them. Mangione allegedly provided offering documents for the HE5 and HE4 that he knew included misrepresentations about compliance lending guidelines, loan characteristics, appraisal accuracy, and other matters. The documents made it appear as if DB Home had put into place underwriting guidelines that “generated quality loans,” as well as processes to properly oversee loan production.

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Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC trustee Irving H. Picard announced that a settlement has been reached for $687M with Thema International Fund for its ties to the multibillion-dollar Madoff Ponzi Scam. Now, a court must approve the agreement.

According to Bloomberg, the “Irish investment fund funneled $1.1B” to the Ponzi scam that bilked thousands of investors, including those who were with offshore feeder funds, of billions of dollars over several decades. The $687M is representative of all the funds transferred from Madoff’s securities firm to Thema International prior to the former’s collapse, in addition to 19.26% of the withdrawals beyond that time period.

Thema International Fund belongs to a number of offshore entities with ties to Madoff friend and Austrian banker Sonja Kohn and the Benbasset family of Switzerland. Picard contends that Kohn and the Benbassets granted Madoff key access to funds as his Ponzi scam began to fail.

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Lord Abbett is suing Valeant Pharmaceuticals contending that the defendant violated New Jersey’s RICO law. The institutional investor is claiming $80B in losses. By invoking the state’s RICO law, Lord Abbett could seek a penalty three times greater than the actual losses it allegedly suffered when the pharmaceutical company’s share price went down.

According to the mutual fund company, it purchased Valeant’s debt securities at a price that was artificially inflated after the pharmaceutical company provided it with information that wasn’t correct. Now, Lord Abbett is alleging violations of RICO law in NJ, which is where Valeant is headquartered.

The institutional investor is not the only party to file a RICO case against Valeant. The other complaints are primarily over allegations that the pharmaceutical company committed fraud by engaging in business practices that were deceptive, including charging too much for drugs. These plaintiffs are claiming hundreds of millions of dollars of losses.

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Michael Siva, a former Morgan Stanley broker (MS), has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges accusing him of insider trading. Siva is one of several people charged over their alleged participation in a group of “tipping chains” and trading on tips about upcoming acquisitions and mergers. The information were provided by Bank of America (BAC) consultant Daniel Rivas. Siva is said to have gotten the tips from the James Moodhe, who is the father of Rivas’ girlfriend.

Rivas and Moodhe have both pleaded guilty to the criminal charges accusing them of insider trading. They are cooperating with the government’s probe.

Moodhe is said to have shared Rivas’s tips with Siva from at least 2015 up through earlier this year. Siva allegedly used the information so he could make successful trades for clients as well as for himself. Moodhe and Siva allegedly met at eating places outside NYC during which time the former would read details about upcoming deals to Siva, including the value of the deals and when news about them was expected to go public. The two men allegedly made over $3M trading prior to and after the announcement of the deals.
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In the UK, the US government is suing several banks over Libor rigging allegations in High Court. The defendants in the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) manipulation lawsuit include Deutsche Bank (DB), Barclays (BARC), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds Banking Group, UBS (UBS), Rabobank (RABO), and several other banks, in addition to the British Bankers Association.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s claim, the banks would engage in lowballing by turning in estimates that were artificially low when participating in the daily process to set the Libor rate. The US agency said that it is suing for 39 US banks, which were once collectively valued at over $400M, that failed after they depended on the US dollar denominated-Libor variant for derivative and other transactions. FDIC contends that the inaccurate figures submitted by the European banks caused the US banks to sustain massive losses.

It believes that if the Libor rate had been set honestly, the benchmark’s rate would would have been higher and these banks would have achieved higher prices and larger returns on different mortgages, loans, options, swaps, and other Libor-tied agreements. Instead, the plaintiffs allegedly colluded together to keep borrowing rates down to make it appear as if the banks were in more robust financial health than what was actual. The FDIC argued that the joint efforts of the banks and the British Bankers Association resulted in the “sustained and material suppression of Libor” from August 2007 through at least 2009.

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FINRA Fines Ex-Morgan Stanley Broker, Issues 15-Day Suspension

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has fined an ex-Morgan Stanley (MS) broker $10K and ordered him to serve a 15-day suspension after he allegedly tried to resolve a client’s complaint without the firm’s consent. The regulator is charging Lewis H. Robinson, who now works with BB & T Securities in Florida, with violating Rule 2010. The rule mandates that brokers satisfy “high standards” as they pertain to commercial honor and principles of trade.

According to FINRA, Robinson wrote $12,203 in checks to resolve three complaints made by the client. Advisor Hub reports that Robinson said that he notified Morgan Stanley as soon as the client noticed that the account was overcharged a higher commission rate than what had been agreed upon but that the firm refused to give a refund because the allegedly mistaken excess fee was charged too long ago.

In South Dakota federal court, a number of public employee retirement funds are suing US Bank NA (USB) for not identifying certain “red flags” as the signs of a tribal bond fraud. The plaintiffs say they lost $25M in the offering scam and they believe that the bank decided to ignore the warnings that something was amiss.

The plaintiffs in the tribal bond fraud lawsuit include the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Employees’ Retirement Plan, which invested $4.1M, the Water Works Board of the City of Birmingham, which invested $4.3M, and the Omaha School Employees’ Retirement System affiliates, which invested $16.2M. According to the pension funds, their investment advisers were bought by fraudsters who put their money in bonds that a Native American tribe had issued.

US Bank served as the tribal bond offerings’ indenture trustee. This meant that it was the bondholder and handled the funds. The plaintiffs want damages for a number of violations, including negligence and breach of contract.
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In the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, preliminary settlements have been submitted in which Deutsche Bank (DB) will pay $48.5M and Bank of America (BAC) will pay $17M to resolve investor lawsuits accusing them of manipulating the agency bond market for years. A judge must still approve the settlements.

Despite settling, both banks maintain they did not engage in any wrongdoing. The lead plaintiff investors include the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of Northern California and the Iron Workers Pension Plan of Western Pennsylvania, and KBC Asset Management NV.

According to court papers and as reported by Reuters, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank are two of the 10 banks accused of rigging the $9 trillion agency bond market for supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds, also known as SSA bonds. The plaintiffs contend that from 2005 to 2015 the banks shared price information with one another, worked as a “super-desk” together, and allowed traders to coordinate strategies in the name of profit. Meantime, customers had to accept bond prices that were unfair to them.