The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut has decided that the Federal Housing Finance Agency can begin the discovery process in its lawsuit over $190 million in mortgage-backed securities that were sold to Freddie Mac (FMCC) and Fannie Mae (FNM.MU) through several hundred securitizations. FHFA is suing financial firms and banks, contending that they did not properly represent the risks involved in the loans backing these MBS. This ruling rejects an attempt by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to stall discovery.
To stop the discovery process from beginning, Royal Bank of Scotland contended that the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) mandates a stay of discovery until a motion to dismiss is resolved. The bank said that under PSLRA, FHFA’s lawsuit is a private cause of action because the agency is maintaining the action for private firms. Royal Bank of Scotland also argued that under the Securities Act or PSLRA, there is “no ‘public’ investor suit.” Judge Alvin W. Thompson, however, did not agree and granted permission to FHFA to begin discovery while noting that the agency is suing as a conservator and therefore the concerns that Congress had in choosing to enact PSLRA don’t exist in this case.
In an unrelated securities fraud case, the SEC is suing Ricardo Banally Rajas of Puerto Rico and his firm Shadai Yire over their alleged involvement in a $7M Ponzi scam that targeted about 200 unsophisticated investors, both from the mainland and the island, between August 2005 and February 2009. Rajas is accused of hiring sales agents that worked on commission while making a number of misrepresentations to get investors to join up. Also, the Commission says that Rajas would recruit through individual conversations and group presentations, promising to pay investors 15-50% yearly return rates while claiming that this was a risk-free investment in Shadai Yire subsidiary M & R International Group, Corp., which would then invest in commodities contracts. Unfortunately, Rajas did not invest these clients’ money, instead using the funds to pay off investors with newer investors’ cash. He also allegedly misappropriated at least $700K to support for his lifestyle. The SEC wants disgorgement, injunctions, and fines.
In a different Ponzi scam, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has put out an order temporarily freezing the assets of two locals, William Sullivan and Michael Turnock, and their firm Bridge Premium Finance LLC. The three defendants allegedly ran their business of selling promissory notes as a financial scheme that ended up raising at least $15.7M from over 100 investors throughout the country. These clients had been promised yearly returns of up to 12%.
The two Colorado men are accused of making it appear to investors that their money would be used to issue loans to small businesses to pay for yearly commercial insurance premiums and that the funds were completely protected via different types of collateral on the underlying loans. In truth, contends the SEC, for at least 10 years investors were paid using newer investors money because Bridge Premium, contrary to how it was represented to them, was not profitable and its obligations to noteholders were much greater than its total assets. As of May, says the Commission, the company had assets under $500K and owed investors over $6.2M. The SEC wants disgorgement and for the defendants to pay a fine.
SEC v. Rojas, SEC.gov (PDF)
SEC halts Denver Based Ponzi Scheme, SEC.gov, August 15, 2012
More Blog Posts:
Institutional Investment Roundup: Madoff Ponzi Victims to Get 2nd Payout, Insurer’s MBS Lawsuit Against UBS Can Proceed, SEC Charges 2 in $10M Penny Stock Scam, & Hedge Fund Manager Found Guilty in $900K Insider Trading Scheme, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 29, 2012
SEC Securities Law Roundup: First Whistleblower Award Under New Program is Announced, Internet-Based Investment Adviser Seeks Regulator’s Recognition, & the Commission Stops Alleged $600M Online Ponzi Scheme, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 29, 2012
Texas Securities Roundup: Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Sued Over Financial Adviser’s Ponzi Scam, Judge Dismisses Ex-GE Executive Whistleblower’s Lawsuit Over His Firing, & Ex-Stanford Financial Group CIO Pleads Guilty to Obstructing the SEC’s Probe, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, July 3, 2012