Colorado Sues Stifel, Nicolaus for Misrepresenting Auction-Rate Securities to Investors

The Colorado Securities Division is suing Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. for securities fraud. State regulators are accusing the broker-dealer of making false assurances to investors about auction-rate securities.

In its Colorado securities fraud complaint, the securities division accused Stifel Nifel, Nicolaus of violating the Colorado Securities Act by allowing investors to think that their ARS-investments would always be liquid, failing to properly supervise sales team members, and making unsuitable investment recommendations to clients.

The Division claims that Stifel, in the role of underwriter, knew that there were liquidity risks linked to ARS but never let its sales force know about them. Stifel brokers allegedly compared ARS to money market funds on a regular basis and sold them as if they were appropriate for cash management purposes. Investors were told they would always be able to access their funds as if it were cash. However, when the ARS market collapsed in February 2008, the Colorado investors that purchased auction-rate securities were unable to get their funds or sell their bonds.

The ARS lawsuit against Stifel, Nicolaus seeks to have the broker-dealer suspended in Colorado. The complaint comes on the same day that the Indiana Securities Division filed its securities fraud lawsuit against Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

ARS are long-term bonds. They are dependent on the success of a periodic auction for short-term liquidity. The fallout continues from the ARS market collapse and state securities regulators continue to take action against broker-dealers. Our securities fraud law firm has remained diligent in our efforts to help ARS investors whose funds were frozen. Broker-dealers and their employees must be held accountable for securities fraud. Our investment fraud lawyers are committed to helping our clients recover their financial losses.

Colorado securities regulators file complaint against Stifel, Nicolaus, Business Journal, October 1, 2009
Read the press release announcing the charges filed by Colorado Dep’t of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Division of Securities against Stifel, Nicolaus