Massachusetts Top Securities Regulator Charges Oppenheimer & Co with Unethical Conduct and Fraud

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin is charging Oppenheimer & Co. with unethical conduct and fraud. The state’s top securities regulator is accusing the investment bank of continuing to market and sell auction rate securities to clients even as Oppenheimer executives were getting rid of their own ARS holdings, worth $3 million, before the collapse.

Galvin says that Oppenheimer Chairman and Chief Executive Albert Lowenthal and other firm executives kept clients and other firm employees “in the dark” about the collapsing ARS market. His office is seeking to revoke Lowenthal’s broker-dealer registration in Massachusetts because he says that the CEO and other Oppenheimer executives “betrayed” their clients’ trust. This is the first time that a state regulator has charged one of the smaller brokers for its alleged involvement in the sale of auction-rate securities while the market was failing.

Galvin says that Oppenheimer clients in Massachusetts are unable to access some $56 million because their ARS investments have been frozen since February. Also named in Galvin’s complaint are ARS Managing Director Greg White and Senior Managing Director Robert Lowenthal.

Oppenheimer and its firm executives are denying Galvin’s allegations. On Tuesday, the investment bank issued a statement claiming that its employees had no knowledge of the kinds of actions that their larger firm counterparts engaged in that contributed to the ARS market collapse. The investment bank also maintains that its executives personally bought and sold ARS during the period noted in Galvin’s complaint, and they continue to hold a number of these securities.

Oppenheimer says it is working with financing sources and regulators to help investors cash out of their ARS.

Related Web Resources:

Massachusetts sues Oppenheimer & Co over ARS sales, Reuters, November 18, 2008
Galvin blasts Oppenheimer & Co. over auction-rate securities, Boston Herald, November 18, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Read the Complaint (PDF)

View the Exhibits (PDF)

Oppenheimer & Co.

Our stockbroker fraud lawyers are working with many investors with frozen auction-rate securities to recover their investments. Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP today.

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