Articles Posted in Bond Funds

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is charging John Galanis, his son Jason Galanis, and five other people with fraud involving a multimillion-dollar tribal bonds scam. The SEC claims that Jason ran the scheme to obtain a “source of discretionary liquidity.”

He and his father allegedly persuaded a Native American tribal corporation affiliated with the Wakpamni District of the Oglala Sioux Nation to put out limited recourse bonds that the two of them had structured. Jason then acquired two investment advisory firms and appointed officers to coordinate the purchase of $32 million in bonds. He used client money to purchase the bonds.

Investors were told that the bond proceeds would be invested in annuities to make enough money to pay back bondholders and to benefit the tribal corporation. Instead, the money went to a bank account owned by a company that Jason and his associates controlled. The funds were allegedly misappropriated to make luxury purchases and to pay lawyers representing Jason and his dad in a criminal case involving unrelated stock fraud charges.

The SEC wants disgorgement, interest, penalties, and permanent injunctions. Also named in the complaint are Devon Archer, Bevan Cooney, Hugh Dukerley, Gary Hirst, and Michelle Morton. They face charges of violating federal securities laws’ antifraud provisions and other rules.

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Former AIG Affiliate Brokerage Firms to Pay $7.5M Fine, $2M Restitution Over High-Priced Mutual Funds
Royal Alliance Associates, FSC Securities Corp., and SagePoint Financial have agreed to pay over $9.5M to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing them of guiding clients toward expensive mutual fund share classes so that the firms could garner additional fees. The brokerage firms were formerly under the AIG Advisor Group umbrella.

According to the regulator, the firms put clients in share classes that charged 12b-1 fees for distribution and marketing even though they were eligible to purchase shares that didn’t come with these added fees.

Because of the placement in the costlier fund classes, the firms collected an additional $2M in fees and did not disclose their conflict of interest in choosing the share classes that would make them more money.

The AIG affiliates are accused of not monitoring advisory accounts quarterly to make sure that churning didn’t take place. The SEC order is claiming breach of fiduciary duty and numerous compliance failures.

California Businessman Allegedly Stole Investor Money, Covered Up Fraud
Daniel R. Nase is accused of stealing investor assets and then trying to conceal the theft once the SEC discovered his scam. The regulator claims that the California businessman raised funds from investors via an unregistered offing of common stock in his Bic Real Estate Development Corp. He then used the funds to cover his own bills.

The Commission said that Nase, who was not registered with any state regulator or the SEC to sell investments, told investors that his company would invest in promissory notes and real estate. Instead, he improperly placed those under his name, his wife’s name, of the name of their family trust. He allegedly tried to hide his fraud by investing the assets that he stole back into BIC to make it look like he was raising his equity stake in the company.

California Water District Accused of Misleading Investors in $77M Bond Offering
The SEC is charging Westlands Water District with misleading investors about its financial state while issuing a $77M bond offering. The agricultural water district is the largest one in the state of California.

According to the SEC, Westland, in prior bond offerings, consented to keep a 1.25 debt service coverage ratio but discovered in 2010 that a lower water supply and drought conditions would keep it from making enough money to keep up that ratio, which measures an issuer’s ability to make future bond payments. To meet the ratio without upping customer rates, Westlands reclassified the funds.
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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White wants significant reforms made to the bond market. Speaking at the Economic Club of New York, White spoke about how trading in these fixed income markets are “highly decentralized.”

She expressed concern that technology was being used in these markets to make this decentralized approach to trading more beneficial for market intermediaries.

According to Reuters, White’s speech is a sign that the SEC is at last making an effort to implement recommendations it made in 2012 about the $3.7 million municipal securities market. The regulator is launching an initiative that would mandate that alternative trading systems and other electronic dealer networks make available to the public their best prices for municipal bonds and corporate bonds. This should give smaller retail investors, and not just certain select parties, pre-trading price data.

Affiliated RIAs of Raymond James to Get Access to Firm’s Alternative Investments

The Raymond James Alternative Investment Group will give its affiliated registered investment advisers access to hedge funds, private real estate, managed futures, private equity, and alternative mutual funds beginning next month. The move is part of Raymond James’ (RJF) attempt to strengthen its RIA platform.

Already, it has added more support services for investment advisers in the areas of marketing, practice marketing, and succession planning. The financial firm also brought in four regional director for recruiting and existing practices while cutting equity ticket charges and waving certain individual retirement account fees.

In a Texas securities case, FINRA arbitration panel has ordered Morgan Keegan & Co., a Regions Financial Corp., to pay 18 investors $9.2M for losses related to risky bond funds. The investors contend that the investment firm committed securities fraud when it convinced them to invest in certain funds that included high-risk “subprime” mortgage assets. Clients also claimed that they were persuaded to automatically reinvest dividends in the funds.

This is the biggest award that an arbitration panel has awarded in a Morgan Keegan case involving six bond funds that were heavily involved in mortgage-related holdings. The funds dropped in value significantly in 2007 and 2008. Hundreds of securities claims against the brokerage firm followed. Last July, Regions Financial announced that Morgan Keegan had recorded a $200M charge for probable costs of the bond fund lawsuits.

Arbitrators in Houston made the ruling in the Texas securities case. Included in the total sum was $1.1M in legal fees that, per state law, will be paid to investors. All of the investors involved were clients of Russell W. Stein, a Morgan Keegan broker. Stein is no longer with the broker-dealer. Regulatory filings indicate that he is currently employed with Raymond James Financial Inc. unit Raymond James & Associates Inc.

Stein and his wife were original claimants in this Texas securities fraud case. They too had invested in the bond funds. Their claims are now part of another case involving a group of other investors. Morgan Keegan is considering appealing the FINRA arbitration panel’s decision.

Related Web Resources:
Morgan Keegan to pay bond fund investors $9.2 mln, Reuters, October 6, 2010
Morgan Keegan Must Pay $9.2Mln To Investors – Panel, Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2010
Morgan Keegan Ordered by FINRA Panel to Pay Investor $2.5 Million for Bond Fund Losses, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 23, 2010
Morgan Keegan Again Ordered by Arbitrators to Pay Bond Fund Losses to Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 27, 2009
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
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A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel has ordered Morgan Keegan & Co. to pay investor Andrew Stein $2.5 million because the bond funds that he invested in had bet poorly on mortgage-related holdings. Panel members found Morgan Keegan liable for failure to supervise, negligence, and for selling investments that were unsuitable for Stein and his companies. The claimants, who sustained financial losses, had initially sought $12 million.

Stein’s arbitration claim is just one of over 400 securities claims that have been filed against Morgan Keegan over its bond funds that had invested in subprime-related securities, such as CDO’s (collateralized debt obligations). When the US housing market collapsed, the funds went down in value by up to 82%.

Stein contends that Morgan Keegan did not reveal the kinds of risks involved in investing in the bond funds. He and his companies claim that Morgan Keegan artificially increased the fund assets’ value so that the funds would appear more stable and investors wouldn’t be able to see the actual risks involved.

US News and World Report says that the first decade of the 21st Century for fund investors got worse after the dotcom bubble burst in 2000. The media publication picked its 10 worst fund disasters:

Reserve Primary Fund: Investors scrambled to cash in shares after the fund’s price sank to over $1/share on September 16, 2008. According to US News & World Report, the Reserve Primary Fund’s biggest mistake was relying too much on Lehman Brothers, which left the fund with $785 million in worthless bonds when Lehman collapsed. Meantime, other funds found themselves in trouble as panic spread. Three days later, the federal government said it would temporarily insure money market funds.

Market timing scandal of 2003: Funds were accused of illegal late trading and front running that showered favor on more influential investors-leaving ordinary retail investors in a state of mistrust toward the institutions they had turned to for securing their retirement savings. Bank of America, Janus, Putnam, and PBHG were just a few of the financial firms accused of market timing, though the practice appeared to have permeated the entire fund industry to some extent.