Articles Posted in Hedge Funds

Nehal Chopra, founder of the hedge fund Ratan Capital Management, and her husband Paritosh Gupta have settled US Securities and Exchange Commission charges alleging that they acted improperly: He, by sharing confidential investment recommendations with her and she, by not disclosing to her clients that her husband was the one who gave her this information.

Gupta worked at Brahman Capital, a hedge fund firm. He later launched Adi Capital Management, also a hedge fund firm. Brahman and Ratan are competitors in their field.

According to the SEC, Gupta provided Chopra with information developed for Brahman’s own clients, as well as the timing of Brahman’s sizes and positions, and he advised her about certain investments. In one example noted by the regulator, Gupta asked his wife about the size of her firm’s position in one security. After she responded, he advised her to increase that position. Ratan would go on to buy more shares that day.

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A jury has found former pharmaceutical CEO and hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli guilty of securities fraud in connection with his two hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, as well as of conspiracy to commit securities fraud involving shares of the drug company Retrophin, which he founded.

Prosecutors had said that Shkreli misled investors, losing their money on bad stock picks while scheming to try recover millions of dollars of these losses. At one point, Shkreli claimed he had $40M in one hedge fund when it had only $300 in the bank.

That said, prosecutors experienced some challenges in proving their criminal case against the ex-hedge fund manager. For example, during the trial, a number of rich Texan financiers admitted that Shkreli’s scam made them money, sometimes even double or triple of what they invested, when Retrophin’s stock went public.

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Ex-Gerova Financial Group Head is Sentenced in $72M Fraud

Gary Hirst, the former president of Gerova Financial Group who was convicted of securities fraud and wire fraud last year, has been sentenced to six years behind bars. Hirst defrauded Gerova shareholders when he secretly gave away almost $72M of company stock to co-conspirators and himself.

He and his co-conspirators are accused of issuing huge quantities of stock and bilking stockholders and the investing public in order to earn millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. Hirst and one of the co-conspirators, Jason Galanis, had gained enough control of Gerova that they could engage in transactions to enrich themselves and others even as they worked to conceal the scam.

Prosecutors in Massachusetts have filed charges against hedge fund manager Raymond Montoya for allegedly bilking investors of millions of dollars in a Ponzi-like scam. The criminal charges against him include wire fraud and mail fraud, and they come two months after state regulators brought their own charges against him.

Montoya ran the hedge fund RMA Strategic Opportunity Fund LLC. He is accused of misusing millions of dollars of investors’ funds to pay back earlier investors, as well as to pay for his son’s mortgage along with luxury items and expenses. The criminal complaint stated that Montoya told investors that RMA held about $4B in assets under management and employed proprietary software to predict stock price changes.

In reality, contend prosecutors, the hedge fund manager oversaw less than $100M and invested just part of victim’s funds.

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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.

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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.
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At the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli is on trial for multiple counts of securities fraud and wire fraud. Just this Monday, over 120 potential jurors were dismissed for various reasons. A number of them, through their statements, revealed that they could not be impartial, with some blaming Shkreli for problems involving the pharmaceutical industry, including that his actions had directly impacted them and/or their loved ones.

For example, one potential juror said that both of his parents now struggle to pay for their daily medical care after Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50/pill to $750/pill overnight. The drug is used to treat parasites and has also been used for babies and AIDS patients suffering from infection. At the time of the price hike, Shkreli was running Turing Pharmaceuticals.

This criminal securities fraud case, however, is not about his time at Turing. Shkreli is accused of using the assets of Retrophin, a biotech company, in a Ponzi-like fraud when he was its CEO and of robbing investors of over $11M.

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In the wake of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy filing, hedge funds are competing with the U.S. territory’s workers to get paid. The island has guaranteed retirees and workers $49 Billion in benefits. However, the federally appointed oversight board expects that it will have to cut pension costs by 10%.

Even worse for bondholders, they could get less than 25% of what bondholders are owed. This is true even for bondholders with General Obligation debt, which was supposed to have been constitutionally guaranteed. Creditors that own COFINAs, Puerto Rico sales tax bonds, are being offered up to 58 cents on the dollar should the territory’s finances get better. Both sides will appear in federal court in San Juan Puerto Rico in an attempt to try to work out a deal.

It was just recently that Puerto Rico’s oversight board submitted for Title III bankruptcy protection to help lower Puerto Rico’s $74 Billion of debt and deal with the Commonwealth’s pension crisis. Under Title III, the island can make pension recipients accept reduced benefits.

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According to Bloomberg, US prosecutors are conducting a criminal probe into whether hedge funds inflated the value of bonds to enhance the fees they were paid. Sources told the news media outlet that prosecutors want to know whether hedge funds solicited fake price quotes from brokers, which would have let the funds artificially raise the value of illiquid securities in their portfolios.

Just this week, a witness in the residential mortgage-backed securities fraud criminal trial against three ex-Nomura Holdings Inc. traders—they are accused of lying about RMBS prices to clients—stated under oath that he had given a Premium Point Investments LP trader fake quotes. The witness, ex-broker Frank DiNucci Jr., claims that two of the defendants, Michael Gramins and Ross Shapiro, are among the ones that trained him to lie to customers about bond prices. DiNucci, who pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy and making misrepresentations,previously worked at Nomura. He also worked at Auriga USA LLC and AOC Securities LLC.

Because certain securities are hard to price, hedge funds depend on brokers and third parties for estimates and quotes to determine how to value debt. Holding artificially inflated securities in the portfolios can allow a hedge fund to tout a better performance and get paid more for performance and management fees. It also allows them to conceal when some holdings do poorly.

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Judge Orders Deutsche Bank Subsidiary to Pay $150Mfor Libor Rigging
A federal judge is ordering Deutsche Bank Group Services, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank (DB), to pay $150M for its involvement in an interest rate manipulation scam. The London unit pleaded guilty last year to rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate benchmark.

The fine comes two years after Deutsche Bank settled Libor rigging allegations with US and British regulators for $2.5B. According to prosecutors, derivatives traders at the German bank and at other banks colluded together to manipulate LIBOR rates to preference their trading positions.

Libor rigging allegations are not the only claims that Deutsche Bank has been contending with. Recently, the German Bank reached a $7.2B settlement with the US DOJ over its part in the 2008 global financial crisis. Meantime, NY and British officials ordered Deutsche Bank to pay $630M in fines because of alleged money laundering that occurred in Russia.

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