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Articles Tagged with securities fraud

Silver Law Group settles a Class Action Complaint on behalf of a group of investors which generally alleged Regions Bank assisted U.S. Pension Trust Corp (“USPT”) in the sale of unregistered securities and failed to properly disclose the high fees and costs of the program. Plaintiffs pursued a class action because many investors were located internationally and a class action was an appropriate vehicle to pursue damages.  The SEC had previously charged USPT with violating the federal securities laws and entered judgment against USPT in September 2010.  Plaintiffs alleged Defendants violated the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act and aided and abetted the unregistered sale of securities, amongst other claims.

The victims were primarily from Latin America and over 5,000 investors were identified as potential class members.  A United States District Court Judge in Miami appointed Silver Law Group and its co-counsel as attorneys to represent the Plaintiffs.  The Plaintiffs further alleged Regions advised USPT on the design and content of marketing materials, had a role in drafting documents, participated in sales conventions and was paid as the trustee on USPT trust accounts.  The class action ultimately settled for approximately $13 million.  The case was reported by the Daily Business Review.

If you have questions about your legal rights, or have been the victim of investment fraud, please contact Scott Silver of the Silver Law Group for a free consultation at ssilver@silverlaw.com or Toll Free at (800) 975-4345.

In July 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a lifetime ban upon Carl Birkelbach, the founder and principal of Birkelbach Investment Securities (headquartered in Chicago, Illinois), which prevents him from participating in any working capacity in the securities industry.  Mr. Birkelbach appealed the SEC’s ban, claiming in part that the SEC exceeded its authority in imposing such a severe penalty upon him.  Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago denied his appeal and upheld the SEC ban, stating that Mr. Birkelbach’s offenses were sufficiently egregious to warrant the sanction imposed by the SEC.

As the head of Birkelbach Investment Securities, Mr. Birkelbach was required to supervise the trading activities of the company’s registered representatives, including William Murphy.  According to the SEC, Mr. Murphy engaged for years in unauthorized conduct, steering clients into unsuitable investments, and churning in client accounts — all of which Mr. Birkelbach was purportedly aware of.  Despite Mr. Birkelbach’s alleged knowledge of the wrongdoing taking place at his company, he imposed no discipline upon Mr. Murphy, never disapproved of a single trade by Murphy, and never contacted the most egregiously harmed customer to discuss the high volume of trading in the customer’s account.  During the years in question, the revenues from Mr. Murphy’s trading in that account, according to SEC calculations, represented nearly 20% of Birkelbach Investment Securities’ total revenue.  Even when the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requested that Mr. Birkelbach place Mr. Murphy on heightened supervision, Mr. Birkelbach failed to comply.  As a result, FINRA imposed upon Mr. Birkelbach a punishment that ultimately became a lifetime ban from the securities industry in any capacity, which the SEC subsequently affirmed in its July 2013 ruling.

If you have questions about your legal rights, or have been the victim of investment fraud, please contact Scott Silver of the Silver Law Group for a free consultation at ssilver@silverlaw.com or Toll Free at (800) 975-4345.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced a fine against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. for $8 million for charging excessive mutual fund sales charges for retirement accounts. FINRA also ordered Merrill Lynch to pay $24.4 million in restitution to damaged customers on top of $64 million Merrill Lynch has already compensated damaged investors. According to the FINRA decision, mutual funds offer several classes of shares, each with different sales charges and fees and many mutual funds waive their initial charges for retirement accounts.  However, Merrill Lynch failed to pass these savings on to the investors.

Merrill Lynch’s retail platform frequently offered such discounts to retirement plan accounts and disclosed those waivers in their prospectuses. However, Merrill Lynch failed to frequently pass these savings on to the investors including retirement accounts.  Accordingly, about 41,000 small business retirement plan accounts, and approximately 6,800 charities and 403(b) retirement accounts available to ministers and employees of public schools, either paid sales charges when purchasing Class A shares, or purchased other share classes that unnecessarily subjected them to higher ongoing fees and expenses. Incredibly, in 2006, Merrill Lynch learned its small business retirement plan customers were overpaying, but continued to sell them more costly shares and failed to report the issue to FINRA for more than five years.

If you believe your portfolio was improperly managed or was charged excessive fees or costs, Silver Law Group will analyze your portfolio at no charge.   Additionally, if you have questions about your legal rights, or have been the victim of investment fraud, please contact Scott Silver of the Silver Law Group for a free consultation at ssilver@silverlaw.com or Toll Free at (800) 975-4345.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) continued its onslaught against Scott Rothstein associates earlier this month when it filed suit in federal court against Barry R. Bekkedam (“Bekkedam”), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of investment advisory firm Ballamor Capital Management (“Ballamor”).  The SEC suit follows a growing number of SEC actions against individuals and corporations accused of providing investor funds and assistance to convicted South Florida Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein.

The SEC alleges that Bekkedam, through Ballamor, solicited his clients and other prospective investors to invest $100 million into the Banyon Income Fund (“Banyon Fund’”), an enormous hedge fund that primarily financed Rothstein’s Ponzi-scheme operations.  The Banyon Fund was created by Bekkedam and Rothstein investor George Levin to solicit additional funds for Rothstein and, the SEC alleges, bolster Ballamor’s business and protect Levin’s multi-million dollar investments with Rothstein.

In seeking disgorgement and civil penalties against Bekkedam, the SEC details allegations of Bekkedam’s material misstatements and omissions to his customers in connection with the Banyon Fund, as well as misrepresentations about his dealings with George Levin, which the SEC alleges were quid pro quo for Bekkedam’s securing investments in the Banyon Fund.  The SEC also alleges numerous securities law violations.

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