Articles Posted in Morgan Keegan

The Texas Court of Appeals for the Fifth District has upheld a $2.1M judgment for a client of Houston Securities Fraud Attorney Sam Edwards of Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas. The ruling ordered Morgan Keegan to pay $2.1M for not telling investors about the actual risks involved in a mortgage-backed securities stake.

It was in October 2014 that a Dallas state court judge determined that the wealth management and capital markets firm had violated the Texas Securities Act by not accurately representing the risks involved in securities in which Purdue Avenue Investors LP and its principals Dana and Robert Howard had invested. These were MBS purchased by bond funds that Morgan Keegan underwrote and Morgan Asset Management managed. The purportedly undisclosed risk was that the funds were heavily involved in lower than investment grade structured finance.

The Howards invested more than $2M in the RMK Strategic Income Fund and the RMK Advantage Income Fund. The funds would go on to lose more than $2B.

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Former JPMorgan Broker Who Stole Over $20M from Richest Clients, Gambled, Goes to Prison
Michael Oppenheim, a former broker with JPMorgan Chase & CO. (JPM), has been sentenced to five years behind bars. Oppenheim pleaded guilty last year to stealing over $20 million from 10 of his richest clients. At one point Oppenheim managed nearly $90 million for 500 clients. He claims he was addicted to sports gambling.

He began betting on NFL games in 1993 and later got involved in online sports betting. After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, he began stealing from clients to cover his losses. Oppenheim also started options trading in tech stocks to repay these clients and in one day lost $2.7M. He concealed the theft by providing customers with bogus account statements.

Prosecutors contend that Oppenheim persuaded clients to take out up to millions of dollars from their accounts by promising to put their money in low risk municipal bonds that would be kept at the bank. Instead, he used the funds to get cashier’s checks that he deposited into accounts that were his but located outside the bank. Oppenheim purportedly targeted clients he knew wouldn’t be watching their accounts closely. His scam went on for over seven years.

FINRA Bars Broker for Senior Financial Fraud
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred David Joseph Escarcega from the financial industry. Escarcega is accused of making a dozen unsuitable recommendations involving debentures tied to the life insurance policy secondary market and targeting elderly clients. He must also pay a $52,270 fine, which is how much he kept in commissions.

According to FINRA, Escarcega sold the debt instruments, which were issued by CWG Holdings Inc., from 3/12 to 6/13. The regulator said that the debentures were very risky and only suitable for investors that could afford to lose all of their investments. The 12 customers involved in this matter were not that type of investor. A lot of the investments were placed in IRAs.
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The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida is holding that an arbitration award granted to investors cannot be vacated under the Federal Arbitration Act just because an arbitrator exhibited obvious partiality when failing to reveal that he wrote a dissent in an unrelated arbitration that allegedly showed he had prejudged issues of law. The securities case is Antietam Industries Inc. v. Morgan Keegan & Co.

Petitioners Antietam Industries Inc., Janice Warfel, and William Warfel contend they sustained financial losses over their RMK fund investments. In 2011, they filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration case claiming that their money was lost because Morgan Keegan had made misrepresentations while failing to disclose how risky the funds were.

Last year, the panel awarded the petitioners $100,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages, plus fees and interest, for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims. When they sought to confirm the award, Morgan Keegan submitted a motion to vacate, pointing to FAA and contending that arbitrator Christopher Mass allegedly showed partiality and “misbehavior” with his failure to disclose his previous dissent. The court, however, rejected Morgan Keegan’s argument, saying it was not convinced that Mass was predisposed or had prejudged.

Three years after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority awarded former Chicago Bulls forward Horace Grant a $1.46 million arbitration award in his securities claim against Morgan Keegan & Co., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld that ruling. Grant, who had suffered losses in the brokerage firm’s mortgage-backed bond funds, accused the brokerage firm of not disclosing to him that his investments were not suitable for him, withholding information about the actual risks involved, and failing to supervisor the fund manager. Morgan Keegan is now part of Raymond James Financial Inc. (RJF).

Grant bought the majority of the funds through his account with Morgan Keegan in 2004 when the brokerage firm owned the sports agency that represented him. The mortgage-backed bond funds were among a group of investment products that took huge losses in value in 2007 and 2008 when the subprime market failed.

Hundreds of investors proceeded to file securities claims against Morgan Keegan, which finally agreed to settle with regulators for $200 million the allegations that it had inflated the value of the high-risk subprime securities that the funds held. James Kelsoe, a fund manager who is accused of purposely inflating the subprime securities’ value, would later to agree to an industry bar by the SEC and consent to pay a $500,000 penalty.

UBS Financial Services Inc. of Puerto Rico (UBS) has agreed to pay $26.6 million to settle the Securities and Exchange Commission administrative action accusing the financial firm of misleading investors about its control and liquidity over the secondary market for nearly two dozen proprietary closed-end mutual funds. By settling, UBS Puerto Rico is not denying or admitting to the allegations.

Per the SEC, not only did UBS Puerto Rico fail to disclose to clients that it was in control of the secondary market, but also when investor demand became less in 2008, the financial firm bought millions of dollars of the fund shares from shareholders that were exiting to make it appear as if the funds’ market was stable and liquid. The Commission also contends that when UBS Puerto Rico’s parent firm told it to lower the risks by reducing its closed-end fund inventory, the Latin America-based financial firm carried through with a strategy to liquidate its inventory at prices that undercut a number of customer sell orders that were pending. As a result, closed-end fund clients were allegedly denied the liquidity information and price that they are entitled to under the law. UBS Puerto Rico must now pay a $14 million penalty, $11.5 million in disgorgement, and $1.1 million in prejudgment interest.

The SEC has also filed an administrative action against Miguel A. Ferrer, the company’s ex-CEO and vice chairman, and Carlos Ortiz, the firm’s capital markets head. Ferrer allegedly made misrepresentations, did not disclose certain facts about the closed-end funds, and falsely represented the funds’ market price and trading premiums. The Commission is accusing Ortiz of falsely representing the basis of the fund share prices.

In other stockbroker fraud news, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has denied Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc.’s bid to vacate the over $40,000 arbitration award it has been ordered to pay over the way it marketed its RMK Advantage Income Fund (RMA). Judge Richard Matsch instead granted the investors’ motion to have the award confirmed, noting that there were “many factual allegations” in the statement of claim supporting the contention that the firm was liable.

Per the court, Morgan Keegan had argued that the arbitration panel wasn’t authorized to issue a ruling on the claimants’ bid for damages related to the marketing of the fund, which they had invested in through Fidelity Investment. Morgan Keegan contended that seeing as it had no business relationship with the claimants, it couldn’t be held liable for their losses, and therefore, the FINRA arbitration panel had disregarded applicable law and went outside its authority. The district court, however, disagreed with the financial firm.

In other stockbroker fraud news, the SEC has reached a settlement with a Florida attorney accused of being involved in a financial scam run by a viaticals company that defrauded investors of over $1 billion. The securities action, which restrains Michael McNerney from future securities violations, is SEC v. McNerney. He is the ex-outside counsel for now defunct Mutual Benefits Corp.

The MBC sales agent and the company’s marketing materials allegedly falsely claimed that viatical settlements were “secure” and “safe” investments as part of the strategy to get clients to invest. The viaticals company also is accused of improperly obtaining polices that couldn’t be sold or bought, improperly managing escrow premium funds in a Ponzi scam, and pressuring doctors to approve bogus false life expectancy figures.

McNerney, who was sentenced to time in prison for conspiracy to commit securities fraud, must pay $826 million in restitution (jointly and severally with other defendants convicted over the MBC offering fraud).

UBS Puerto Rico unit to pay $26.6 mln in SEC pact
, Reuters, May 1, 2012

Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. v. Pessel (PDF)

SEC Files Charges Against Former Attorney for Mutual Benefits, SEC, April 30, 2012

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Stockbroker Fraud Roundup: SEC Issues Alert for Broker-Dealers and Investors Over Municipal Bonds, Man Who Posed As Investment Adviser Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud, and Citigroup Settles FINRA Claims of Excessive Markups/Markdowns, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 10, 2012

Commodities/Futures Round Up: CFTC Cracks Down on Perpetrators of Securities Violations and Considers New Swap Market Definitions and Rules, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 20, 2012

Institutional Investor Fraud Roundup: SEC Seeks Approval of Settlement with Ex-Bear Stearns Portfolio Managers, Credits Ex-AXA Rosenberg Executive for Help in Quantitative Investment Case; IOSCO Gets Ready for Global Hedge Fund Survey, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, March 29, 2012 Continue reading

A FINRA panel in Houston has ordered Morgan Keegan & Company to pay the Claimants of a Texas securities fraud $555,400 in compensatory damages. The Claimants had accused the financial firm of misrepresentation, negligence, vicarious liability, failure to supervise and violating the Texas Securities Act, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and NASD Rules.

The securities claim is related to the sale and recommendation of a number of Regions Morgan Keegan proprietary mutual funds that were allegedly touted as diversified, conservative, and low risk despite a supposed higher rate of return:

• Regions Morgan Keegan High Income Fund • Regions Morgan Keegan Advantage Income Fund • Regions Morgan Keegan Multi-Sector High Income Fund • Regions Morgan Keegan Strategic Income Fund
The funds were actually high-risk mortgage-backed securities that were not appropriate for the Claimants.

After a 5-day hearing, the panel found Morgan Keegan liable in the Texas securities case and ordered the financial firm to pay damages to the WCR Family Limited Partnership, as well as a 4% per annum interest on the $550,400 for the period of July 29, 2011 until payment is made in full. The panel did dismiss all claims brought by the Wilhelmina R. Smith Estate.

Morgan Keegan Securities Fraud Cases
For the past couple of years, our Texas stockbroker fraud law firm has been diligently pursuing claims against Morgan Keegan related to their Regions Morgan Funds. The cases came following claims by investors that the financial firm defrauded them by misrepresenting the risk involved in the investments. Investors sustained many of the losses when the subprime mortgage market collapsed.

Over 400 securities claims have been filed over Morgan Keegan’s RMK funds. Already tens of millions of dollars have been awarded to claimants.

Other RMK funds named in the claims include the:

• RMK Select Intermediate Bond Fund • RMK Select High Income Fund
Earlier this summer, Regions Financial Corp. agreed to pay $210 million to settle more securities allegations that it fraudulently marketed mutual funds with subprime mortgages while artificially raising the prices of the funds. FINRA, SEC, and regulators from Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi agreed to the settlement.

Examples of FINRA arbitration settlements that Morgan Keegan has been ordered to pay over the RMK Funds:

• $881,000 to several investors. The claimants said their actions were over SEC and FINRA violations, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, failure to supervise, vicarious liability, negligence, and breach of contract.

• $2.5 million to investor Andrew Stein and his companies. Panel members held Morgan Keegan liable for negligence, failure to supervise, and the sale of unsuitable investments.

Related Web Resources:

Regions Settles S.E.C. Case Over Former Morgan Keegan Funds, NY Times, June 22, 2011
Regions settles fraud case, may sell Morgan Keegan, Reuters, June 22, 2011
Texas Securities Act

More Blog Posts:
Morgan Keegan Settles Subprime Mortgage-Backed Securities Charges for $200M, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 29, 2011
Morgan Keegan Ordered by FINRA to Pay RMK Fund Investors $881,000, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 24, 2011
Morgan Keegan Ordered by FINRA Panel to Pay Investor $2.5 Million for Bond Fund Losses, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 23, 2010

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According to the SEC, FINRA, and state regulators, Morgan Keegan & Company and Morgan Asset Management have consented to pay $200 million to settle subprime mortgage-backed securities-related charges. Also agreeing to pay penalties over their alleged misconduct are Morgan Keegan comptroller Joseph Thompson Weller and ex- portfolio manager James C. Kelsoe Jr.

The two men were accused of causing the false valuation of subprime mortgage backed securities in five Morgan Asset Management-related funds. Per the SEC’s administrative order, Kelsoe directed the fund accounting department to arbitrarily execute price adjustments to the fair values of certain portfolio securities. These adjustments disregarded the lower values for the same securities that outside broker-dealers provided as part of the pricing process. Kelsoe’s directives and the actions that were taken as a result would sometimes cause Morgan Keegan to not price the bonds at current, fair value.

The SEC also says that Kelsoe screened and affected at least one broker-dealer’s price confirmations. That broker-dealer had to provide interim price confirmations that were below the value that the funds were valuing certain bonds at but greater than the initial confirmations that the broker-dealer meant to provide. The interim price confirmations allowed the funds to not mark down the securities’ value to reflect current fair value. Kelsoe is also accused of getting the broker-dealer to withhold price confirmations in certain instances where they would have been significantly lower than the funds’ current valuations of the relevant bonds. The SEC says that Kelsoe fraudulently kept the Navs of funds from being reduced when they should have gone down when the subprime securities market deteriorated in 2007.

Of the $200 million, Morgan Keegan must pay a $75 million penalty to the SEC, $25 million in disgorgement, and $100 million to a state fund that would then pay investors.

Morgan Keegan to Pay $200 Million to Settle Fraud Charges Related to Subprime Mortgage-Backed Securities, SEC, June 22, 2011
Morgan Keegan Entities to Pay $200M In Settlement Over Subprime MBS Valuations, Law 360, June 22, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Morgan Keegan Ordered by FINRA to Pay RMK Fund Investors $881,000, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 24, 2011
Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. Must Pay $250K to Couple that Lost Investments in Hedge Fund with Ties to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 16, 2011
Morgan Keegan to Pay $9.2M to Investors in Texas Securities Fraud Case Involving Risky Bond Fund, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 6, 2010 Continue reading

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel is ordering Morgan Keegan to pay a group of investors $881,000 for losses they sustained in Morgan Keegan’s proprietary funds that were concentrated in high-risk subprime mortgage assets. Customers lost about $2 billion.

The Morgan Keegan funds that investors had placed their money in included the:
• RMK High Income Fund
• RMK Multi-Sector High Income Fund
• RMK Advantage Income Fund
• RMK Select Intermediate Bond Fund
• RMK Strategic Income Fund

The claimants alleged misrepresentations and omissions, unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, failure to supervise, negligence, vicarious liability, breach of contract, FINRA rule violations, and Securities and Exchange Act violations. The FINRA panel found Morgan Keegan liable to the claimants on a number of the claims and ordered the financial firm to pay the following in compensatory damages:

• $33,382 to Palmer and Kathy Albertine • $105,844 to Jon Albright • $254,642 to Susan and Sam Davis • $458,625 to Kendall and Peter Tashie
FINRA also ordered Morgan Keegan to pay $26,850 for all of the forum fees for the arbitration against the financial firm, $28,500 for the Claimaints’ expert witness fee, and $600 for the portion of the filing fee that is non-refundable. Morgan Keegan is a Regions Financial Corporation subsidiary.

Related Web Resources:

Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, Cornell University Law School
More Blog Posts:
Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. Must Pay $250K to Couple that Lost Investments in Hedge Fund with Ties to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, March 16, 2011
Morgan Keegan to Pay $9.2M to Investors in Texas Securities Fraud Case Involving Risky Bond Funds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 6, 2010
Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc., Morgan Asset Management, and Two Employees Face Subprime Mortgage Securities Fraud Charges by SEC, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 8, 2010 Continue reading

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says that Morgan Keegan & Co, Inc. must pay over $250,000 in punitive and compensatory damages to Jeffrey and Marisel Lieberman. The couple suffered financial losses after investing in Greenwich Sentry LLP, a hedge fund whose assets were funneled to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. FINRA contends that the brokerage firm failed to due enough due diligence on the Madoff feeder fund, and was “grossly negligent.”

The Lieberman, who are accusing the Regions Financial unit of fraudulent misrepresentation, negligence breach of fiduciary duty, and violations of Florida and Tennessee statutes, claim that Morgan Keegan and Julio Almeyda, one of its registered representatives, invested $200,000 of their money with Greenwich Sentry. The fund ended up filing for bankruptcy last November.

Per Morgan Keegan’s internal compliance rules, investors should only be allowed to place money in hedge funds if “speculation” is one among their main objectives when opening an account. “Speculation” was the last objective on the couple’s list. FINRA says that not only must the broker-dealer repay the couple’s entire loss of $200,000, but also they must also give them 6% annual interest from when the investment was made, $50,000 in punitive damages, and $14,000 in expert witness fees.

Meantime, the FINRA panel cleared Almeyda of wrongdoing, finding that he did not know that Morgan Keegan had not provided sufficient due diligence nor was he aware that he had given the Lieberman’s false and misleading information about their investments’ risks.

Over the last year, Morgan Keegan has found itself dealing with hundreds of arbitration cases nvolving mutual fund investors alleging securities fraud related to the significant losses they sustained during the subprime mortgage crisis.

Related Web Resources:
Morgan Keegan Fined $250,000 Over Madoff Fund, Money News, March 7, 2011
Investors Succeed in Due Diligence Case Against Brokerage Over Madoff-Related Losses, BNA Securities, March 9, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Morgan Keegan to Pay $9.2M to Investors in Texas Securities Fraud Case Involving Risky Bond Funds, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 6, 2010
Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc., Morgan Asset Management, and Two Employees Face Subprime Mortgage Securities Fraud Charges by SEC, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 8, 2010
Morgan Keegan Ordered by FINRA Panel to Pay Investor $2.5 Million for Bond Fund Losses, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 23, 2010 Continue reading

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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