Articles Posted in Texas Securities Fraud

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has filed fraud charges against Sandlapper Securities. According to the self-regulatory organization, the small brokerage firm created and sold private placements in saltwater disposal wells in Texas while charging undisclosed markups of up to 270% that eventually totaled over $8M on numerous deals.

Also accused of fraud are Sandlapper CEO Trevor Gordon, firm executive Jack Bixler, and two ex-brokers. FINRA contends that in 2011, the four men set up Tiburon Saltwater Reclamation Fund to invest in these wells. They also established a development company to handle the investments in the wells. However, alleges the SRO, between 12/12 and 7/13, Bixler and Gordon utilized the development company to intervene between the fund and the saltwater disposal well deals and they charged markups ranging from 161-270%. Not only were these markups excessive but also they went undisclosed. This occurred even though the fund could have directly bought interest in the wells.

Also, claims FINRA, beginning in 2013, Gordon began using the development company to obtain ill-gotten profits from investors who bought interest in the saltwater disposal wells. The company bought the interests and then resold them to investors, again at high, undisclosed markups of 67% to 376%.

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Securities Case Brought Over Caspersen Fraud
Shareholders of PJT Partners Inc. have brought a class action lawsuit against the publicly traded investment bank. The complaint comes in the awake of the arrest of Andrew Caspersen, who previously was one of the top officials at the bank’s Park Hill Group unit. Caspersen is accused of running a $95M fraud in secret. He is also a defendant in this lawsuit.

According to authorities, Caspersen falsely told investors that he was raising funds for supposed private equity investments when actually he was placing their money in high-risk options bets. He lost millions of dollars through options trading in his own accounts. Among his investors were the charitable foundation of a hedge fund and other institutional clients.

Caspersen was arrested and charged last month, as well as fired from PJT Partners. Investor Gregory Barrett claims that the investment bank misled shareholders by not disclosing that it had inadequate fraud prevention and compliance controls. The shareholder lawsuit points to purported evidence of alleged control failures, including an anonymous quote in the New York Times stating that Caspersen had availed of Park Hill Group’s payment system to give investors invoices and keep his scam going.

Sabal Sues Deutsche Bank Over Swap Transaction
Sabal Limited LP is suing Deutsche Bank AG (DB). Sabal claims that the German bank falsified documents after coming to the realization that the outcome of a swap transaction wasn’t going to be in its favor. Deutsche Bank is accused of improperly holding nearly $1M from the Texas asset management firm.

According to Sabal, in 2011, Deutsche Bank proposed a way of “cheapening” the firm’s capital costs through a swap tied to the DB Pulse USD Index. Deutsche Bank purportedly said that if the swap was based on this index it would generate a lot of funds. The transaction was finalized a few months later.

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The Houston Municipal Employees Pension System is suing Internet banking company BofI Holding Inc. (BOFI). The pension fund claims that the bank engaged in unlawful lending practices and other misconduct to enhance profits.

For example, according to the complaint, BofI Holdings refinanced a loan to a borrower involved in a gang-run gambling ring, did not disclose that it was using off-balance-sheet entities to buy lottery receivables, gave loans to foreigners with suspect or criminal backgrounds, did not have a healthy compliance system, and failed to tell investors that it was the subject of regulatory and government subpoenas and pending federal probes. The Houston pension fund is seeking class action status.

The case was spurred by a whistleblower court case filed by an ex-junior auditor at BofI Holdings. The whistleblower claimed that the Internet banking company issued loans to certain foreign nationals without properly vetting them even though some of them had criminal pasts. BofI denied his contentions and countered with its own lawsuit.

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Wells Fargo Bank (WFC) must pay a Dallas woman over $8 million. Texas State Judge Emily Tobolowsky said that the bank defrauded Angela Militello in its role as trustee for a trust that family members set up for her when she became an orphan at the age of seven.

Militello contends that in 1999, a trust officer sent to her by the bank told her to set up a new account and gave her papers for establishing a revocable trust. After Militello filed for divorce in 2006, she asked the trust officer about withdrawing $200,000 from the trust to purchase a home for her and her child.

The trust officer gave her a check for that amount and a form asking for approval of the completed sale of a percentage of the assets in the trust. The remainder of assets was to be sold within a few months. Militello claims that Wells Fargo and a third party conspired to sell the assets in her trust at way below market value and fraudulently charge her tfor the property taxes after a buyer purchased the assets.

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A Texas man was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud. At the time of the fraud, Daniel Lutz Bergin was an equity trader for Cushing MLP Asset Management, which is located in Dallas.

While at the registered investment adviser, Bergin had discretionary assets under management of about $2.5B. He serviced institutional investors and high net worth individuals through portfolio and advisory management services.

However, from 2010 until he was fired in May 2013, Bergin engaged in a front-running scam involving the misuse of inside information when making trades in his wife’s brokerage account. He would use non-public, material data about big orders that he was able to access from Cushing. The information was supposed to be used for making trades on behalf of his clients. Instead, he also used the information to make trades through his wife’s account.

JPMorgan Ordered to Face $10B Mortgage-Backed Securities Case

A federal judge said that JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) must face a class action securities fraud lawsuit filed by investors accusing the bank of misleading them about the risks involved in $10B of mortgage-backed securities that they purchased from the firm prior to the financial crisis.

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken certified a class action as to the bank’s liability but not for damages. He said it wasn’t clear how investors were able to value the certificates they purchased considering that the market hadn’t been especially liquid. He did, however, say that the plaintiffs could attempt again to seek class certification on class damages.