Articles Posted in Texas Securities Fraud

Charles August Banks IV was arrested in San Antonio this week. Banks, is charged with two counts of wire fraud related to a $7.5M investment that former NBA basketball star Tim Duncan made with Gameday Entertainment, a sports merchandising company. Banks became Duncan’s financial adviser nearly two decades ago while working for CSI Capital management and he advised him for years.

Banks, now a renowned wine investor,  is  also facing a securities fraud lawsuit brought by the SEC. Although Duncan, formerly with the San Antonio Spurs, isn’t named specifically in the complaint, the regulator said that the case involves an ex-pro basketball player who was Banks’ client.

The SEC claims that Banks made material misrepresentations and omissions of key facts to the basketball player to persuade him to invest in Gameday.  Among the alleged misrepresentations:

A New Jersey financial firm must pay $50,000 in Texas for allegedly not properly supervising one its brokers who loaded up too many energy stocks in his clients’ accounts. The Investment Center Inc. has been reprimanded by the Texas State Securities Board, which also imposed the fine.

It was an investor that brought the Texas securities case against the securities dealer and one of its ex-brokers. According to the state regulator’s consent order, between ’10 and ’14, some clients at The Investment Center held 95% of total investible assets in energy sector equities. The recommended securities were typically low-priced and publicly traded. There were purportedly periods when some clients’ accounts were invested in just one company instead of holding investments in different energy companies at the same time. Also, said the state regulator, with certain clients, their equity positions were 100% concentrated in the energy sector.

The Texas State Securities Board said that clients that could not sustain a lot of risk were among those affected by this broker’s investment choices.

Although the former financial representative’s actions in investing so much of his clients’ money in concentrated equity positions raised red flags when some of these accounts dropped in value, The Investment Center purportedly failed to act on the warning signs. The firm has since paid the investor who filed the Texas securities fraud complaint $98,000.

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Dez Bryant, the wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboy, is suing Texas State Senator Royce West for financial fraud. West used to be Bryant’s adviser. The NFL football player is claiming breach of fiduciary and professional obligation.

West was Bryant’s adviser and lawyer. According to the Dallas Cowboy player’s Texas securities fraud case, West recommended his friend David Wells as a financial manager to Bryant even though for had more than $1K in pending judgments against him in 2010 alone.

Because of West’s recommendation, Bryant gave Wells power of attorney and signatory authority over his banks accounts. The football star said that Wells stole more than $200K from him.

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is ordering WFG Advisors to pay a $100K penalty for charging clients too much on their investments business development companies and real estate investment trusts. The Dallas-based firm is the registered investment advisory arm of Williams Finance Group.

According to the regulator, the purported overcharges took place from 1/11 through 8/13. The SEC claims that WFG Advisors had policies and procedures that were inadequate, which kept it from identifying and stopping incidents of overcharging. Because of these inadequacies, including what the regulator considered a lack of technological capabilities, 35 accounts were collectively overcharged $34,640.63 in advisory fees.

The Commission said client’s in the firm’s wrap account program were told that they would be charged a commission to buy alternative investment product interests, including interests in BDCs and REITs. However, there wasn’t supposed to be an advisory fee. Instead, said the Commission, WFG Advisors charged both a commission and an advisory fee. (Forms submitted to the regulator included false statements saying that wrap program participants would not have to pay commissions for transactions that took place in their accounts.)

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is charging Breitling Energy Corp. (BECC), Breitling Oil & Gas Corporation, Patriot Energy Inc., Crude Energy, LLC, and eight people over an $80M Texas oil and Gas scam run by a Dallas man. Chris Faulkner, who is Breitling Energy Corp.’s CEO, is accused of starting the scam as far back 2011 through Breitling Oil and Gas Corporation (BOG), which sold “turnkey” oil and gas working interests.

Faulkner is charged with issuing misleading and false offering documents, trying to manipulate BECC’s stock, and misappropriating clients’ funds, including at least $30M for his own expenses, such costly meals, international travel, personal escorts, and jewelry. The SEC said that the false offering documents included fake statements and omissions regarding Faulkner’s experience, the ways in which investor money would be used, and drilling cost estimates. The documents also included reports by Joseph Simo, a licensed geologist. Simo’s production projections purportedly had no basis and the reports did not mention that he had ties to BOG.

The SEC said that BECC, Patriot Energy, and Crude Energy also were involved in the scam. Faulkner is accused of setting up the latter two companies so he could scam investors through additional offerings that resembled those offered by BOG. BOG, Patriot, and Crude would go on to raise over $80M from investors.

Also facing SEC charges are ex-Crude and Patriot employee Beth Hadkins, ex-BECC CFO Rick Hoover, BECC COO Jeremy Wagers, BOG co-owners Dustin Michael Miller Rodriguez, and Parker Hallam, Simo, and ex-BECC employee Gilbert Steedley. Wagers and Hoover,

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has gotten a court order to freeze the assets of investment adviser Ash Narayan. He is accused of bilking Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez, ex-Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Oswalt, and San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy, and other clients of millions of dollars in a Ponzi-like scam.

Also named in the case are The Ticket Reserve Inc., an online sports and entertainment ticketing business, its COO John A. Kaptrosky and CEO Richard Harmon. Narayan, who used to be managing director of Dallas-based RGT Capital Management, was on the ticket company’s board. He owned over 3 million shares of The Ticket Reserve Inc. stock and he was the primary person raising funds for the company.

According to the regulator, Narayan took over $33M from clients’ accounts and moved the funds to The Ticket Reserve. He allegedly did this without their knowledge or permission and he used unauthorized or forged signatures. Narayan also is accused of making Ponzi-like payments using newer investors’ money to pay earlier investors. Meantime, he was purportedly was paid almost $2M in concealed compensation.

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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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Houston Pension Fund Accuses Bank of Fraud
In the U.S. District Court Southern District of California, the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System has filed a securities fraud case against Bofl Holding (BOFI) Inc. The pension fund claims that the bank employed illegal lending practices and depended on off-balance-sheet entities to enhance profits.

According to the plaintiff, Bofl did not disclose its use of off-balance-sheet entities to buy lottery receivables, failed to put into place a healthy compliance system, and gave loans to foreign nationals even though they had suspect or criminal histories. The Houston pension fund also believes that Bofl did not fully disclose to investors that it had been subject to regulatory and government subpoenas or that there were pending federal probes against it.

Dallas Pension Fund Files Lawsuit Against CDK Realty Advisors
The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is suing CDK Realty Advisors. The Texas pension fund claims that the advisory firm directed it toward risky deals while making excessively high fees and garnering other benefits. The plaintiff is seeking to recover millions of dollars.

CDK Realty Advisors once managed over $700M for the Dallas pension fund. Now, the latter is claiming multiple breaches of fiduciary duty. It is also claiming write-downs and losses of over $320M because of the risky investments. The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System says that CDK should have done a better job of protecting the fund’s members.

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Texas Oil and Gas Ponzi Scam Leads to 13-Year Prison Term
The owner of RHM Exploration has been sentenced to over 13 years months behind bars for a Texas oil and gas Ponzi scam that raised about $4.5M from investors. William Risinger must pay more than $3.7M to those whom he bilked.

Risinger pleaded guilty to criminal charges of money laundering and wire fraud. From 11/10 to 6/14 he stole funds from investors for three gas, oil, and mineral ventures that were scams. Court documents state that he used proceeds from his fraud for his own spending and for ‘lulling” payments to make it appear to investors as if the joint venture they put their money into was running promised.

As part of his sentence, Risinger will spend 160 months in prison and serve three years of supervised release.

Linn Energy Seeks Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
In other oil and gas news, Linn Energy LLC (LINE) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Houston-based company cited weak energy prices as a reason for having to seek protection.

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Linn Energy (LINE) says that its unit holders have until April 25 to exchange their units for LinnCo shares. According to SeekingAlpha.com, the Texas-based company is making the deal to avoid CODI (cancellation of debt income).

As it stands, Linn Energy has suspended its distribution and is making interest payments on its unsecured debt just in time before its 30-day grace period to make the payments ends in order to avoid a default. According to Nasdaq.com, the energy player paid interest of $60M on senior debt. At some point, Linn Energy may have to file for bankruptcy.

This month, Zach Investment Research downgraded Linn Energy shares from a buy rating to a hold one. It sent investors a research report with this new information. Stifel Nicolaus (SF) also lowered shares of the oil and gas company from a hold rating to a sell one in February. In March, Robert Baird lowered its target price on Linn Energy shares and established a neutral rating for the company in its research note. In December, Barclays (BARC) reaffirmed its hold rating of the shares. Ladenburg Thalmann downgraded Linn Energy from neutral to a sell rating and Citigroup (C) did the same in its research note.

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