August 17, 2016

Securities Fraud News: Hedge Fund Manager Accused of Securities Fraud Involving Payoffs to the Terminally Ill, SEC Halts Trading in Neruomama Shares, and Commodity Pool Fraud Leads to More than $10M in Penalties and Restitution

Investment Advisor Firm Accused of Paying Off Terminally Ill Patients to Commit Fraud
The SEC has filed fraud charges against Donald Lathen and his Eden Arc Capital Management. Lathen is accused of recruiting at least 60 individuals who had less than six months to live and agreeing to pay them $10K each for the use of their names on joint brokerage accounts. When one of these individuals would die, he would allegedly redeem the investments by falsely representing that he and the terminally individual person were joint account holders.

Lathen recruited the terminally ill patients through contacts he had at hospices and nursing homes. In reality, it was Lathen’s hedge fund that owned the option investments.

As a result, of the purported omissions and misrepresentations, issuers paid over $100M in early redemptions. Lathen is accused of violating the custody rule by not properly putting the securities and money from the hedge fund in an account under the name of the fund or in one that held only client money and securities.


SEC Stops Trading in Neromamam Ltd.
The SEC has stopped the trading of Neuromama Ltd. (NERO) shares. The shares trade on the mostly unregulated over-the-counter markets and the regulator is concerned about transactions that may be “potentially manipulative, as well as other red flags that have purportedly been cropping up for years.

Neruomama’s paper value went up times four to $35B this year despite not much volume. The company’s shares went up by four times to $56/share. (On January 15, ’14, its value was $4.73B.)

Continue reading "Securities Fraud News: Hedge Fund Manager Accused of Securities Fraud Involving Payoffs to the Terminally Ill, SEC Halts Trading in Neruomama Shares, and Commodity Pool Fraud Leads to More than $10M in Penalties and Restitution" »

July 25, 2016

Hedge Funds Sue Puerto Rico and Its Governor

A group of hedge funds that are holding Puerto Rico debt are suing the U.S. territory and Governor Alejandro García Padilla. Monarch Alternative Capital, Aurelius Capital Management, Stone Lion Capital Partners, Covalent Capital Partner, Aurelius Capital Management, Fundamental Credit Opportunities, and a number of other funds claim that Puerto Rico and Governor García violated PROMESA, which stands for the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act. President Barack Obama signed the new debt restructuring law on June 30, which is when García issued a debt moratorium on the nearly $800 million in general obligation debt that was due on July 1 (along with other Puerto Rico debt for a collective total of about $2 billion). The hedge funds say that Governor García had no legal right to call a debt moratorium in the wake of PROMESA.

The bondholders want the court to stop the island from “unlawfully dissipating” assets before a federal oversight board is appointed. PROMESA places the U.S. territory under the supervision of the board, which is tasked with pressing for fiscal reform and supervising spending. However, the board won’t be in place for at least two months.

In their complaint, filed in United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, the creditors claimed that Governor García took advantage of this time gap in implementation and is spending hundreds of million dollars in ways that garner "political favor.” The hedge funds argued that certain expenditures would have been challenged by the board if it were already in place.

The plaintiffs, as holders of general obligation bonds, say they are entitled to some of the money being spent because Puerto Rico still owes them the debt payments. They want the district court to freeze the payments that have been issued and mark them as invalid until the board can take a look at them.

Continue reading "Hedge Funds Sue Puerto Rico and Its Governor" »

June 27, 2016

Bondholders Sue Puerto Rico As Debt Talks Falter

A group of hedge funds in New York that invested in Puerto Rico general obligation bonds are suing the island’s government. The bond lawsuit came just days before the island is expected to default on a $2 billion debt payment due, including over $700 million in general obligation bonds on July 1, and on the same day that the island announced it was ending talks with bondholders about debt payments.

The negotiations has resulted in a number of failed proposals and counterproposals, but no resolutions. The U.S. Commonwealth continues to owe $70 billion in public debt, including $12.5 billion in general obligation debt.

The hedge funds’ complaint seeks to invalidate a law allowing Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to put into effect a temporary debt moratorium. The bondholders contend that when they purchased the general obligation bonds, they had counted on the protection that was supposed to guarantee the bonds under the territory’s constitution.The hedge funds are arguing that they are entitled to be paid first—and in full—and on time. They claim that the the moratorium cannot be applied to the bonds that they hold. Also, the hedge funds are accusing the Puerto Rico government of improperly diverting tax revenue to the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp. (COFINA) so more debt could be issued while bondholders were not paid.

Continue reading "Bondholders Sue Puerto Rico As Debt Talks Falter" »

April 9, 2016

Hedge Funds Sue Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank Over Assets

Problems continue to plague Puerto Rico as its financial situation continues to deteriorate. Just recently, as things have worsened for the U.S. territory, a number of hedge funds have asked the United States District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico to freeze the assets of the Commonwealth’s Government Development Bank (“GDB”). The hedge funds, who are large owners of Puerto Rican debt, are accusing the bank of insolvency and spending its remaining money to help support other sectors of the island’s beleaguered government.

The plaintiffs in the case include Claren Road Asset Management and Brigade Capital Management. The hedge funds reportedly hold about $3.75 billion of the bank’s debt.

In their lawsuit, the hedge funds said that the GDB has not provided the financial data that creditors have requested. They want the Court to prohibit additional cash transfers except for those that are necessary. The hedge funds do not want public entities, municipalities, and other depositors to be able to take their money out.

The plaintiffs expressed concern that should the GDB run out of funds, a lot of essential services may have to stop and creditors would sustain significant losses. The GDB has a debt payment due on May 1 of about $422 million. In response to the hedge funds’ case, GDB President Melba Acosta-Febo claimed that the accusations made in the complaint are “erroneous” and allegations that the GDB knowingly kept back financial information in order to preference deposits over bondholders are “wholly false.”

The hedge funds believe that GDB kept giving loans even while knowing these loans would likely not be repaid.

Continue reading " Hedge Funds Sue Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank Over Assets " »

February 17, 2016

Securities Fraud: SEC Charges Unregistered California Man with Fraud, FINRA Bars Two Brokers, Second Scam Lands Man in Jail Again

SEC Files Charges in $1.9M Broker Scam
A California man is facing Securities and Exchange Commission charges. The regulator is accusing Gregory Ruehle of fraudulently selling purported stock in a medical device company and keeping investors’ money. The unregistered broker purportedly raised about $1.9M from over 100 investors but did not transfer or deliver the securities that they purchased to them. Meantime, Ruehle is said to have used the funds to cover his personal spending and pay off gambling debts.

According to the SEC, Ruehle began bilking investors in 2012. He allegedly misrepresented to investors in Minnesota and California that he would sell them securities that he owned in ICB International Inc., for which he was a former consultant.

Instead, said the regulator, Ruehle sold investors more securities than what he owned and he failed to tell them that the securities that belonged to him were not transferrable. Ruehle is accused of generating fake documents that he claimed came from the company and issuing bogus company stock certificates to investors, along with a letter that falsely stated that the stock had been transferred to them.

The SEC wants permanent injunction, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and penalties against Ruehle. The unregistered broker is also now the subject of criminal charges in a parallel case that was brought by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.


FINRA Bars Two Men for Hedge Fund Fraud
In other broker news, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has announced that it is barring brokers Walter F. Grenda and Timothy S. Dembski from the securities industry. The industry bar is for fraud involving the sale of the Prestige Wealth Management Fund, LP, which is a hedge fund.

Continue reading " Securities Fraud: SEC Charges Unregistered California Man with Fraud, FINRA Bars Two Brokers, Second Scam Lands Man in Jail Again" »

February 13, 2016

Securities Fraud: Ex-Broker Jerry McCutchen Under Investigation for REIT Sales, Hedge Fund Manager Must Pay $18M to SEC, and NASAA Steps Up Fight Against Elder Financial Fraud

Former Broker Is Subject of Numerous Securities Claims
If you are an investor who sustained losses after purchased real estate investments trusts with the help of former broker Jerry McCutchen, you may have grounds for a securities claim. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck Report, McCutchen is accused of making unsuitable investment recommendations and he has been the subject of over a dozen broker fraud claims alleging negligence, misrepresentations, and other claims.

In one case, McCutchen, while registered with Berthel Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc., is accused of placing a couple’s retirement funds in speculative, illiquid, alternative investments that he misrepresented as safe investments in line with the husband and wife’s investment goal to keep their money safe. In reality the Tier REIT, the Icon Leasing Fund Twelve LLC, and others, did not have proper diversity or allocation and were not suitable for the couple.

McCutchen is not registered with any firm at this time nor is he a licensed broker at the moment. He was registered with Berthel Fisher & Co., Bay City Securities, Next Financial Group, First Funds Inc., FSC Securities Corp, Central Brokerage Services, Commonwealth Equity Services, MML Investors, Proequities Inc., and Walnut Street Securities.


NY Hedge Fund Manager Ordered to Pay $18M
Moazzam “Mark” Malik, and his American Bridge Investment Group LLC are facing SEC charges accusing them of bilking 19 clients of over $1M through the sale of limited partnership interests in a fake hedge fund that was run under different names. The SEC said that Malik claimed that the fund held $100M when that amount was never more than about $90,000. Now, the regulator is ordering Malik to pay $18M.

Continue reading "Securities Fraud: Ex-Broker Jerry McCutchen Under Investigation for REIT Sales, Hedge Fund Manager Must Pay $18M to SEC, and NASAA Steps Up Fight Against Elder Financial Fraud" »

January 29, 2016

Hedge Fund Manager to Repay Investors $2.87M for Losses

QED Benchmark Management LLC and its hedge fund manager Peter Kuperman will resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing them of misleading investors about the QED Benchmark LP hedge fund’s historical performance and investment strategy. As part of their settlement they will pay back investors $2.8M in losses. However, by settling they are not admitting or denying the charges.

According to the SEC, the investment advisory firm and Kuperman did not disclose to investors that there were heavy trading losses. They purportedly did this by using a combination of real and hypothetical returns when giving out information about performance history. Marketing strategy included proposing to abide by a scientific stock-selection strategy using algorithms to concentrate on over 280 metrics in the areas of value, momentum, risk, growth, and estimates. The fund was supposed to select investments using the metrics to determine which ones would do better in the market.

QED's offering memorandum and its limited partnership agreement said that no more than 20% of assets could be invested in any one security, while no more than 5% could be invested in a security that was illiquid. The SEC said that none of these agreements were honored.

Because of these alleged misrepresentations, QED Benchmark and Kuperman were able to secure millions of dollars from investors. The two of them are accused of not following the fund’s stated investment plan and placing most of the assets into one penny stock. Misleading and incomplete disclosures about the investment’s liquidity and value were also purportedly made. In just the first quarter that stock earned a 79% loss. When Kuperman presented potential investors with 2009 results, he did not disclose the bad returns and used hypothetical returns instead.

Continue reading "Hedge Fund Manager to Repay Investors $2.87M for Losses" »

December 21, 2015

Turing Pharmaceutical Martin Shkreli is Arrested, Faces Criminal and Hedge Fund Fraud Charges

Ex-Retrophin CEO Martin Shkreli has been charged with fraud based on the time he worked as a hedge fund manager. The Securities and Exchange Commission claims the 32-year-old, who has just stepped down as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, misappropriated funds from two hedge funds, made material misrepresentations, and engaged in other misconduct. His former outside counsel Evan Greebel faces SEC charges of aiding and abetting Shkreli’s alleged fraud.

According to the regulator’s complaint, the purported fraud occurred between 2009 and 2014 when Shkreli was portfolio manager for MSMB Capital Management LLP and MSMB Healthcare LP, which he both founded. The Commission claims Shkreli misappropriated about $120K from MSMB Capital Management to pay for personal expenses while misleading investors about the hedge fund and its size and performance. Shkreli said in July 2010 that the fund had returned over 35% when it actually lost about 18%.

Some of the other allegations against Shkreli are that he lied to one of the hedge fund’s executing brokers about its ability to sell a substantial short position in a pharmaceutical stock in an account. Because of this, the broker lost over $7 million, which this person then had to cover in the open market. Shkreli is also accused of misappropriating $900K in 2013 to resolve claims made by said broker from the short selling losses.

As for Greebel, he is accused of helping Shkreli to fraudulently persuade Retrophin, when he was CEO, to pay dissatisfied investors of his hedge fund who were threatening to take legal action. The two men allegedly had investors go into agreements with the pharmaceutical company by claiming that they were paying for consulting service when what they were doing was releasing Shkreli from possible claims. SEC Director Andrew Calamari said that the attorney’s purported involvement in the hedge fund fraud violated legal boundaries as well as ethical and professional duties.

Continue reading "Turing Pharmaceutical Martin Shkreli is Arrested, Faces Criminal and Hedge Fund Fraud Charges" »

December 7, 2015

NY Man Convicted in $800K Hedge Fund Fraud

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a statement announcing the conviction of Mazzam Ifzal Malik, also known as Mark Malik, on 28 criminal charges that involved him stealing over $800,000 from investors. According to the state, the hedge fund manager set up fake hedge funds so he could take investors’ money.

During cold calls to investors in the United States and abroad, Malik claimed that he had extensive experience on Wall Street, including having managed over $5 billion in assets. Schneiderman, however, said that the 33-year-old only had been a financial consulting trainee. He also was a registered broker but for just two years.
Malik’s real job experience involved working as a traffic agent, waiter, and security guard.

Yet with this lack of experience, from ’11-’15 Malik managed the following bogus hedge funds:

• Wall Street Creative Partners
• Wolf Hedge LLC.
• American Bridge Investments L.P.
• Seven Sages Capital, L.P.

Continue reading "NY Man Convicted in $800K Hedge Fund Fraud " »

February 13, 2015

Securities Fraud Cases: NY Hedge Fund Manager Bilks Investors of Over $800K, Maize Fund Scam Leads to Restitution, Madoff Ponzi Scheme Victims Get $355M, and Kentucky Scheme Ends with Probation, Compensation

SEC Says New York Hedge Fund Manager Stole From Investors
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says that Moazzam Malik, a purported hedge fund manager in NYC, stole money from investors. Malik allegedly falsely claimed to be running a hedge fund holding about $100 million in assets under management. He is accused of touting high returns.

Malik raised over $840,000, but his fund, which didn’t make actual investments, never held over $90,177 in assets. Instead, he kept taking out money and spending the funds. He refused to give investors back their money, even pretending to be a fund employee and sending out an e-mail saying that he had passed away. Mailk purportedly kept soliciting investors even as he received redemption requests.


Maize Fund Investment Scam Leads to $6.7M Restitution
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has gotten a federal court order demanding that Scott M. Ross and his Maze Asset Management LLC, Maize Capital Management, LLC and his Maize Capital Management LLC pay $5.4 million in restitution and a $1.3 million civil penalty for his Maize Fund investment scam. Ross is serving time behind bars for his involvement in two other financial scams.

Ross and his companies are accused of making false statements to prospective customers, putting out bogus account statements reflecting trading profits when there were none, mishandling client funds, and not properly registering as a Commodity Pool Operator with the CFTC. The regulator’s complaint charged Ross and the companies with violating core anti-fraud Commodity Exchange Act provisions related to their solicitation and managing of the Maize Fund, which is a pooled foreign exchange account.


Madoff Ponzi Scam Victims Get Back Another $355M
According to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, about $355 million will be returned to the victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scam. Along with a $497 million settlement reached with federal funds Primeo Fund and Herald Fund, some $10.5 billion has been recovered in the liquidation proceedings for the scheme that bilked inventors of billions of dollars.

This is Madoff trustee Irving Picard’s fifth distribution of recovered moneys to Madoff customers. He is in charge of the Securities Investor Protection Act liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Securities LLC.

$1.3M Restitution in Kentucky Securities Fraud Case
The Department of Financial Institutions says that Pamela Jean Williams and Richard Dow Williams must pay over $1.3 million in securities fraud restitution to five victims. If they don't pay, then their sentences of one year and three years, respectively, would go from probation to time behind bars.

The Williamses were charged on multiple counts of selling unregistered securities, fraudulent securities practices, and omitting or misrepresenting material facts about a gas well investment. Each pleaded guilty to one consolidated fraud charge and has agreed to pay restitution.

Fraudulent Hedge Fund Manager Moazzam Malik Fakes Own Death, ValueWalk, February 16, 2015

Federal Court Orders Scott M. Ross and his Companies to Pay More than $6.7 Million in Restitution and a Civil Monetary Penalty for Defrauding Investors in His Commodity Pools, Mishandling Customer Funds, and Failing to Properly Register as a Commodity Pool Operator, CFTC, February 13, 2015

Madoff's Victims Are Repaid Another $355 Million, Trustee Says, NPR, February 9, 2015


More Blog Posts:
Sun Antonio Spurs Star Tim Duncan Files Texas Investment Adviser Fraud Case, Stockbroker Fraud Case, January 31, 2015

Standard & Poor’s Settles Inflated Ratings Case for $1.5 Billion, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 3, 2015

SEC Subjects Credit Rating Agencies, Asset-Backed Securities Issuers to Tighter Rules, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 28, 2014

Magoffin man, woman ordered to pay more than $1.3 Million in securities fraud case, Floydcountytimes, February 12, 2015

February 4, 2015

Hedge Fund Fraud Leads to Criminal Convictions

Francisco Illarramendi has been sentenced to 13 years behind bars for a Connecticut securities scam that involved hundreds of millions of dollars from the state oil company of Venezuela. The 45-year-old ex-hedge fund manager said he committed the crimes to conceal investment losses and because he was pressured by corrupt government officials in the South American country.

Illarramendi, a Venezuelan-American, devised a currency arbitrage market that he claims made $60 billion for the government in Caracas, which kept it from failing. In 2005, he began his hedge fund scam to conceal $5 million in losses in a failed bond transaction that was made for the Venezuelan government. Illarramendi contends that he and his family were threatened with violence if they refused to go along.

The judge, however, noted that the former hedge fund manager took $20 million for his own purposes. In time, the fraud grew as Illarramendi continued to use his hedge funds to cover what now exceeded over $500,000 million. He also paid million of dollars in bribes to government officials in Venezuela for sending the oil company’s money to him, which he invested. Illarramendi pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice in 2011. To date, the court appointed receiver has recovered enough to pay investor claims of over $345 million but more needs to be recovered.

Meantime, in the U.K., hedge fund manger Magnus Peterson has been found guilty of fraud, false accounting, forgery, and fraudulent accounting in an unrelated case. Peterson founded Weavering Capital.

Investors lost $536 million when Weavering Macro Fund failed in 2009. The fund had been marketed as producing returns that were stable and low risk. Instead, it collapsed after the discovery that a multimillion-dollar trade in the flagship fund was connected to an offshore company that Peterson controlled.

The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Fund accused Peterson of misleading investors for several years and working with swap trades to artificially inflate the Weavering Macro Fund’s performance. He took about $8.8 million of investors’ money.

Hedge Funds
These are minimally regulated private investment partnerships that typically only accept wealthy investors. These investment vehicles usually have a lot of flexibility when it comes to investment strategies that may be used.

Hedge funds can invest in bonds, equities, futures, options, arbitrage, commodities, illiquid investments, and derivative contracts. They can be very profitable when the market is volatile and are not for all investors.

The SEC and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission say there are several signs of hedge fund fraud:

• Audit problems
• Lack of independence when trading
• Investor complaints
• Hedge fund fraud lawsuits have already been brought
• Strong performance claims that are unusual
• Valuation problems
• Hedge fund mangers trading in their accounts

Hedge fund fraud can lead to investment losses. Contact our Hedge fund securities lawyers today.

Hedge Fund Information for Investors, FBI

London Hedge Fund Founder Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison, The New York Times, January 23, 2015

Boss Of Largest Ponzi Scheme In Conn. History Gets 13 Years, Law360, January 30, 2015

Hedge fund boss who cost investors £350MILLION when his Mayfair-based firm collapsed due to his rogue trading is jailed for 13 years, DailyMailUK, January 23, 2015


More Blog Posts:
California Insider Trading Ring Made Almost $750K in Illegal Profits, Says the SEC, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 5, 2015

UBS Settles SEC Dark Pool Case for $14M, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 16, 2015

NY Sues Barclays Over Alleged High Speed Trading Favors in Dark Pool
, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 26, 2014

January 23, 2015

Insider Trading News: SEC Sues Ex-Capital One Data Analysts, U.S. Attorney Bharara Wants Rehearing in Case Involving Overturned Convictions, and Judge Vacates Four Men’s Guilty Pleas

Ex-Capital Data One Analysts Are Defendants in SEC Insider Trading Lawsuit
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing Nan Huang and Bonan Huang, two former Capital One data analysts, for insider trading. The regulator contends that the two of them used nonpublic data to trade in consumer retail companies’ shares before earnings and sales reports were issued. They allegedly used sales information that the credit card company had collected from millions of customers.

According to the SEC lawsuit, from 11/13 to 1/15 the two analysts made hundreds, perhaps thousands of keyword searches for sales information on at least 170 companies that are publicly traded. They had access to this data because part of their job was to serve as fraud investigators.

The Commission says that the two men knew how to examine the information to figure out whether a company’s sales were going up or down. From 1/12 to 1/15 Huang and Huang purportedly made $2.83 million via share trades, in some instances using call options and put options to make the trades. Stocks that they traded included those belonging to Apple. Capital One fired the two men earlier this month.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Seeks Rehearing Regarding Ruling Overturning Hedge Fund Fraud Convictions
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will ask for a rehearing of an insider trading case in which convictions were overturned. In the case, United States v. Newman, A United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit panel overturned the convictions of Level Global Investors hedge fund portfolio manager Anthony Chiasson and Diamondback Capital hedge fund portfolio manager Todd Newman. The panel cited a 1983 Supreme Court precedent that said remote tippees could only be held liable if they knew the original tipper and received “personal benefit” from said tippee. This could not be proven against the two men so the court dismissed the cases against them.

“Remote tippees” in insider trading cases are people that find out about material nonpublic data via an intermediary and not straight from the insider that was the original source of the information.

Judge Vacates Insider Trading Guilty Pleas
Just this week, a federal judge vacated guilty pleadings by Thomas Conradt, Daryl Payton, Trent Martin, and David Weishaus. The four men pleaded guilty to trading on non-public data ahead of IBM’s agreement to purchase SPSS for $1.2 billion in 2009. A lawyer working on the deal gave them the information. He passed on the data to Martin but did not think that he would share the information with anyone else or use it for trading.

The men requested that their guilty pleas be withdrawn after the Second Circuit panel overturned the convictions of Chiasson and Newman. U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr. granted their request.

Now, ex-Galleon Group trader Zvi Goffer is also saying that he will try to get his insider trading conviction, which came with a ten-year prison term, dismissed. Nicknamed the “Octopussy” while at that firm, Goffer is accused of having direct knowledge that tippers were benefiting and personally directing cash payments to them for giving over the material, non-public data.

U.S. regulators sue former Capital One employees for insider trading, Reuters, January 22, 2015

Insider trading convictions vacated, USA Today, January 22, 2015

Insider-Trading Defendants Allowed to Retract Guilty Pleas, The Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2015


More Blog Posts:
SEC Wants $602M Fund Set Up for Victims of SAC Capital’s Insider Trading, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 17, 2014

Ex-Ameriprise Manager Who Helped with SAC Capital Insider Trading Case Settles Charges Against Her, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, December 9, 2014

Texas State Securities Board Was Special Prosecutor in $1M Securities Fraud Case
, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 22, 2015

October 23, 2014

Rajaratnam Brother Settles Insider Trading Charges Involving Hedge Fund Advisory Firm Galleon Management

Rajarengan “Rengan” Rajaratnam, the brother of Raj Rajaratnam, has consented to pay over $840,000 to settle insider trading charges filed, against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Rengan, who has not admitted to or denied wrongding, also has agreed to an industry bar. A court must still approve the settlement.

Rengan was a portfolio manager at Galleon. He also co-founded Sedna Capital Management, which is another hedge fund advisory firm. Raj was convicted of insider trading in 2011.

It was in 2013 that the SEC filed charges against him for his involvement in the insider trading scam conducted by his brother Raj and Galleon Management.

According to the Commission from 2006 to 2008 Raj, who was a Galleon founder, repeatedly gave Rengan insider data. The latter made over $3 million in illicit gains for himself and the funds that he managed at Sedna Capital and Galleon. Rengan also purportedly worked with his brother to nurture highly-placed sources and obtain confidential information so that they would benefit over other traders. Some of his illicit trades are said to have involved securities of Hilton Hotels, Akamai Technologies, Polycom and others. Rengan, however, was acquitted in the criminal case against him.

The financial scheme involved securities in over 15 companies that resulted in illicit gains of close to $100 million. To date, the regulator has settled or obtained court order judgments in enforcement actions related to the Galleon fraud against 35 defendants. Some $165 million in monetary sanctions have resulted thus far.

Rajaratnam’s Brother Settles SEC Lawsuit for $841,000, Bloomberg, October 23, 2014

Rengan Rajaratnam's Prosecutors Had Concerns About the Case, The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2014

Read the SEC Complaint Charging Rengan with Insider Trading (PDF)


More Blog Posts:
Galleon Group Founder’s Brother Pleads Not Guilty to Insider Trading, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 2, 2013

Ex-Goldman Sachs Board Member Accused of Insider Trading with Galleon Group Co-Founder Seeks to Have SEC Administrative Case Against Him Dropped, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 19, 2011

Galleon Group LLC Co-Founder Raj Rajaratnam Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison Over Insider Trading Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 13, 2011

August 14, 2014

Former MIT Professor and His Son Plead Guilty to $140M Hedge Fund Fraud

Gabriel Bitran, an ex- Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, and his son Marco Bitran have pled guilty to securities fraud charges accusing them of bilking investors of $140 million. Through their company, GMP Capital Management, the father and son placed investor money in hedge funds linked to Bernard Madoff, who ran the Ponzi scam that defrauded clients of billions of dollars.

According to prosecutors, from 2005 to 2011 Bitran and Marco collected $500 million from investors by promising to invest their funds using an original complex mathematical trading model. The money was supposed to go into exchange-traded funds and other securities but were instead placed in hedge funds.

When the financial crisis of 2008 happened, a number of the hedge funds got into trouble. Some of their investors lost up to 75% of their principal.

The Bitrans allegedly took out around $12 million of their own money from the hedge funds but made customers wait to redeem their funds from GMP Capital Management. (In 2011, the firm name was changed to Clearstream Investments LLC.) The two of them paid themselves millions of dollars in management fees.

The father and son are accused of lying to investors by telling them that they had delivered average yearly returns of 16-23% over eight years. The U.S. Attorney said that e-mails between the Britans show evidence of this. They also purportedly made false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission during its related investigation.

In that civil probe, the Bitrans consented to settle the hedge fund fraud charges by paying $4.8 million. The two did not deny or admit wrongdoing. They did, however, agree to an industry bar.

If the judge accepts their plea deal in the criminal securities case, the Britans are facing up to five years behind bars and then supervised release. They would have to pay back $10 million in profits.

Ex-MIT official and son plead guilty to securities fraud, Boston.com, August 12, 2014

Ex-MIT dean, son plead guilty to hedge fund scam, CNN, August 12, 2014


More Blog Posts:

LPL Financial to Pay Illinois $2 Million Fine Related to Variable Annuity Exchanges, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 13, 2014

SEC Tells J.S. Oliver Capital to Pay $15M for Alleged Cherry-Picking Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 11, 2014

Kansas Settles SEC Charges Over Allegations it Misled Investors about Risks in Muni Bond Offerings Totaling $273 Million, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 11, 2014

June 14, 2014

Hedge Fund Fraud News: Ex-Osiris Partners Principals Must Pay $55M, Ex-SAC Manager Gets Prison Sentence for Insider Trading, Lawyer Goes to Prison Over Rothstein Fraud, and Former New Stream Capital Executives Plead Guilty

NJ Court Orders Former Osiris Partners LLC Principals To Pay Over $55M
A state court in New Jersey has ordered the ex-principals of Osiris Partners LLC, Ex-CEO Michael J. Spak, ex-Chairman Peter Zuck, and ex-controller Joseph C. Spak to pay more than $55 million in penalties and restitution for hedge fund fraud. Investors were bilked when the men fraudulently inflated the firm’s net asset value and diverted funds for personal spending.

Prosecutors contend that the men overstated the net asset value of the hedge fund so that management fees would be higher and losses could be hidden. Unregistered agents were hired to sell limited partnership interests. By the latter part of 2011, the net asset value of the fund was nearly nil because of the inflated management fees, the misappropriation of the money, investor payments, and trading losses. Dozens of investors were harmed.

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau of Securities were granted summary judgment in this case.


Ex-SAC Hedge Fund Manager Gets 3 ½ Year Prison Sentence
Michael Steinberg, a former SAC Capital portfolio manager, must serve 2 ½ years in prison for insider trading. Prosecutors said Steinberg traded on information from NVIDIA and Dell insiders and made almost $2 million in illegal profits. He was found guilty last year of conspiracy and securities fraud charges.

In April, SAC, owned by billionaire Steven Cohen, settled charges of wire fraud and securities fraud that involved “systemic insider trading” and let the firm garner hundreds of million dollars in illegal profits. A federal judge approved its $1.8 billion settlement with the government and SAC closed down its investment advisory business save for overseeing Cohen’s $9 billion wealth.


Lawyer Gets Prison Sentence for Helping Rothstein Fraud
Christina Kitterman, the ex-Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler attorney, will serve five years in prison for impersonating a Florida Bar official. According to prosecutors, even though she didn’t know Scott Rothstein was running a $1.4 billion Ponzi scam, she knew it was fraud to impersonate Adria Quintela, the head of the bar’s office in Fort Lauderdale.

While pretending to be Quintela, she attempted to get some of Rothstein’s investors to keep giving him funds even though he didn’t make payments to them. The conversation allowed Rothstein’s Ponzi scam to continue for another six months when investors gave over another $553 million.

Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison term for the Ponzi scam, was an adjunct professor while Kitterman was a Nova Southeastern University law student. He later became her boss. She claims he was sometimes abusive but that she felt indebted to him after he helped her get into rehab for alcoholism.


Ex-New Stream Capital Hedge Fund Managers Plead Guilty to Securities Fraud
David Bryson, Bart Gutekunst, and Richard Pereira have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The men were managers of the new defunct New Stream Capital hedge fund in Connecticut.

According to prosecutors, they hid changes they made to the fund’s capital structure to appease their Gottex Fund Management biggest investors when the market collapsed in 2008. They didn’t want Gottex to withdraw the almost $300 million it invested in New Stream. The Switzerland-based company had announced it was going to withdraw or redeem its investment because it was worried that changes made by New Stream management had subordinated the status of its investment.

New Stream then manipulated accounts outside the US to keep giving Gottex favorable treatment. According to the SEC, which filed a civil case, as the financial crisis got worse the New Stream executives wouldn’t let investors redeem or withdraw their money. They dealt with about $545 million in redemption requests. The hedge fund filed for bankruptcy protection three years ago.


Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD LLP
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Connecticut Hedge Fund Execs Admit Fraud, The Courant, May 22, 2014

Read the SEC Complaint (PDF)

Rothstein lawyer Christina Kitterman gets 5 years in federal prison for fraud, Sun-Sentinel, May 20, 2014

Default judgment worth $55M against Osiris Fund, Washington Examiner, June 9, 2014

Hedge Fund Manager Gets 3 Year Sentence for Insider Trading
, Time, May 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:

Ex-Sentinel CEO is Convicted of $500M Fraud, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, April 24, 2014

SEC Stops Former Marine’s Hedge Fund Fraud That Targeted Military Folk, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 12, 2013

SAC Capital Advisor’s $1.8B Criminal Securities Fraud Settlement with the DOJ is Accepted by a Federal Judge, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 12, 2014

April 24, 2014

Ex-Sentinel CEO is Convicted of $500M Fraud

Eric Bloom, the CEO of Sentinel Management Group, Inc., the now bankrupt hedge fund, has been convicted of bilking over 70 customers of more than $500 million prior to the firm’s collapse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bloom misappropriated securities that belonged to customers when he used the financial instruments as collateral to get a loan for Sentinel from Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK). The loan was partially used to buy risky illiquid securities for a trading portfolio to benefit Bloom, other Sentinel officers, corporations controlled by his family, and his relatives.

Also, says the DOJ, even though Bloom knew that Sentinel was at risk of defaulting on the loan from the bank, he caused the hedge fund to take over $100 million from customers while hiding its true financial state. A federal jury returned guilty verdicts against him on one count of investment adviser fraud and 18 counts of wire fraud.

The guilty verdict comes six months after Charles K. Mosley, Sentinel’s former head trader, pleaded guilty to two counts of investment adviser fraud related to the charges filed against Bloom. Mosely admitted to covering up their actions. In his plea agreement, he said that customers were sent statements according to interest income rates that he and Bloom had calculated rather than the performance of investment portfolios.

The SEC sued Sentinel in 2007, accusing the firm of transferring at least $460 million in securities from client funds and using the holdings of customers to get a $321 million credit line. Rather than disclosing that Sentinel was moving, comingling, and misappropriating assets, says the SEC, the firm issued regular account statements that showed no indication of the improper activities. As a result customers of Sentinel suffered undisclosed losses for months until they got a letter from the firm saying that the assets would have to be sold at discount and at a loss, supposedly because of the liquidity crisis.

In August, an appeals court judge Chicago said that BNY Mellon would have to face a lawsuit challenging its $312 million lien on assets of Sentinel. This reversed a district judge’s decision to uphold the lien. (The liquidation trustee had sued BNY Mellon to subordinate or disallow its lien claiming bank employees were aware that Sentinel was wrongly using the assets of investors as collateral as part of the hedge fund’s credit line.) In January, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jacqueline P. Cox said that BNY Mellon would have to give back the $337 million it received from Frederick Grede, the trustee liquidating Sentinel.

If you suspect your investment losses are a result of negligence or misconduct at the financial firm representing you, please contact our securities fraud lawyers today.

US Justice Department Convicts Hedge Fund CEO Of $500 Million Fraud, HedgeCo.Net, March 26, 2014

BNY Mellon Must Face Challenge to $312 Mln Sentinel Lien, Bloomberg, August 26, 2013

Sentinel trustee wants Bank of NY Mellon to return $337 million, Reuters, December 18, 2013


More Blog Posts:
Securities Law Roundup: Ex-Sentinel Management Group Execs Indicted Over Alleged $500M Fraud, Egan-Jones Rating Wants Court to Hear Bias Claim Against SEC, and Oppenheimer Funds Pays $35M Over Alleged Mutual Fund Misstatements, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 13, 2012

Barclays Settles Two Libor-Related Securities Cases, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, April 16, 2014

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Among Banks Sued by Danish Pension Funds in Credit Default Swaps Lawsuit, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 15, 2013

February 28, 2013

New Stream Capital LLC Hedge Fund Executives Face Criminal Securities Fraud Charges

The United States has charged Bart Gutekunst, Richard Pereira, and David Bryson, all New Stream Capital LLC hedge fund executives, with securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Pereira is New Stream’s former CFO. According to US Attorney David Fein, the defendants ran a securities scam to fool investors so they could get and keep up investments partially because they were afraid they would lose their largest fun investor.

New Stream unveiled new feeder funds in November 2007. It told investors they would have to transfer their investments from a Bermuda-based fund that they were closing to these new ones. However, contend prosecutors, when New Stream’s biggest investor, Gottex Fund Management, intended to redeem its investment in the fund in Bermuda rather than transfer its money to the newer funds, the New Stream executives allegedly came up with a scam to keep the fund going so that the redemption would be reversed.

They are accused of restructuring New Stream’s structure to make sure Gottex Fund Management was prioritized. 2011, the fund and its affiliates petitioned for bankruptcy protection when their multiple restructuring efforts failed. After the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware approved the firm’s liquidation plan last year, the funds’ investors were able to recover 7 to 19% of their monies.

If convicted, the three men, who were released on bond, face up to 20 years behind bars on each of the 10 securities fraud counts and the eight wire fraud counts. In regard to the single conspiracy count, that comes with a maximum of five years behind bars if there is a conviction.

Meantime, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed related Connecticut securities fraud charges against Gutenkunst, David Bryson, and New Stream Capital. The regulator contends that they lied to investors about their hedge fund’s financial state and capital structure. Also facing SEC securities charges are Pereira and the firm’s ex-investor relations head Tara Bryson, who has agreed to a proposed settlement.

The Commission claims that after the advisory firm’s co-owners and lead principals made the decision to modify the fund’s capital structure to appease Gottex by giving it priority over other investors should liquidation occur. Gutekunst and David Bryson, with Tara Bryson leading the way, allegedly kept marketing the fund to make it appears as if all investors were on equal ground. They are accused of fraudulently raising close to $50 million in investor money due to these alleged misrepresentations.

The Commission claims that not only would disclosing the capital structural changes have made it harder to keep raising money via the new feeder funds and caused existing investors to pull for redemptions, but also, disclosing this information would have negatively impacted the pecuniary interests of the defendants, while jeopardizing the growth in cash flow coming from a new, profitable fee structure that they had set up in 2011.

If you lost money because your investment was wrecked by securities fraud, contact our stockbroker fraud law firm right away and we will be happy to provide you with a free case evaluation.

SEC Charges Connecticut Hedge Fund Managers With Securities Fraud, SEC.gov, February 26, 2013

New Stream Capital Executives Accused of Fraud, The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2013


More Blog Posts:

Ex-Hedge Fund Portfolio Managers Convicted in $72M Insider Trading Scams, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 1, 2013

Louisiana-Based Hedge Fund Manager Charged by SEC with Securities Fraud Related for Allegedly Concealing RMBS Losses, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 8, 2012

New York Fed Bailed Out Bank of America Over Mortgage-Backed Securities Sold to AIG, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 20, 2013

February 12, 2013

Securities Fraud Litigation Roundup: Former Hedge Fund Exec Admits to $1M Investment Fraud, SEC Files Penny Stock Scam Case& Class Action Claims Against Contact Lens Maker are Dismissed

Ex-Hedge Fund Exec Pleads Guilty to $1M Investment Fraud
In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ex-hedge fund principal Berton Hochfeld pleaded guilty to wire fraud and securities charges over his alleged role in an investment scam that bilked investors of over $1M. He had been the organizer of limited liability Hochfield Capital, the general partner of Heppelwhite Fund LLP, which was set up to invest in publicly traded securities.

According to prosecutors, Hochfeld issued false representations to investors about the investments they made while misappropriating their money. He also is accused of taking money from Heppelwhite. Hochfeld will pay restitution and forfeit illegal profits. He will be sentenced this summer.

Securities and Exchange Commission Files Penny Stock Scam Case
The SEC is suing 12 entities and four individuals for allegedly running a penny stock scam that involved the acquisition of unregistered microcap company shares at discounted rates and then selling them while making false claims of registration exemptions per federal securities laws. Per the Commission, from 2007 to 2010 the defendants obtained unregistered shares in microcap companies at a discount of 30-60% by telling the companies that they wouldn’t resell the shares right away and instead keep them for investments when, actually, they did sell them immediately while making fraudulent claims that the shares were exempt from registration under the 1933 Securities Act’s Regulation D.

Actions allegedly taken included setting up virtual corporate presences in Texas and other states to make it appear as if compliance with claimed exemption was taking place and getting lawyer opinion letters that talked about the defendants’ intention to keep the shares for investment purposes. They also are also accused of using these letters to get stock certificates sans restrictive legends so they could resell the shares right away.

Class Action Securities Claims Against Contact Lens Maker are Dismissed
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has dismissed a securities fraud class action lawsuit against Cooper Cos. Inc. (COO) and some of its former and current executives. The complaint had accused them of making false and misleading statements about “Avaira” contact lenses, which were defective, to raise the company’s share price. The executives also allegedly sold their company shares, making more than $14.2 million in illicit benefits. The plaintiffs are claiming 1934 Securities Exchange Act violations.

Noting that the lawsuit did not satisfy the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act’s pleading requirements and did not allege facts supporting that there was a “strong inference of scienter” or that the share price had become inflated due to omission or representation, the district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

Greenberg v. Cooper Cos. Inc. (PDF)

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Garber et al, Justia

United States v. Hochfeld (pdf)


More Blog Posts:
Texas Securities Criminal Case Against Oil and Gas Company Executive Can Proceed, Rules Fifth Circuit, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 6, 2013

Reviving Antifraud Lawsuit Over Alleged Market-Timing Practices From Over Five Years Ago is Not the Answer, Say Ex-SEC Officials, Institutional Investor Securities Fraud, December 22, 2012

Reviving Antifraud Lawsuit Over Alleged Market-Timing Practices From Over Five Years Ago is Not the Answer, Say Ex-SEC Officials, Institutional Investor Securities Fraud, December 22, 2012

January 1, 2013

Ex-Hedge Fund Portfolio Managers Convicted in $72M Insider Trading Scams

A jury has convicted Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman, two ex-hedge fund portfolio managers, of securities fraud and conspiracy charges related to the parts they played in insider trading scams that caused them to illegally profit about $72M. Newman was previously with Diamondback Capital Management, LLC while Chiasson was with Level Global Investors, LP.

According to United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, the defendants made trades using insider information about NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) and Dell Inc. (DELL). Research analysts at different investment firms gave them the material, nonpublic information.

Chiasson was found guilty of five counts of securities fraud. On just the two technology companies’ stocks, he had made Level Global $68.5 million. Newman, who made his fund approximately $3.8 million, was convicted of four securities fraud counts. Both men could spend years behind bars.

The massive insider trading operation ran from 2007 to 2009. Level Global, a $4 billion hedge fund, underwent liquidation 2011 following a 2010 FBI raid. Diamondback told its clients in December that it too was shutting down shop following similar raids.

Meantime, the research analysts accused of giving Chiasson and Newman the information have also pled guilty to related criminal charges: Jon Horvath, previously with Sigma Capital Management; Jesse Tortora, also previously with Diamondback and who had worked under Newman; Danny Kuo, formerly with Trust Company; Sandeep Goyal, formerly with Neuberger Berman; Spyridon Adondakis, who had worked at under Chiasson at Level Global. Tortora, Goyal and Adondakis were cooperating witnesses that testified in this latest criminal trial.

Operation Perfect Hedge
The investigation and prosecution of these men are part of Operation Perfect Hedge, which is the name given to the FBI’s systematic efforts to target insider trading involving hedge funds. Since October 2009, Bharara’s office has charged 79 people with insider trading—71 of them have either been convicted or they entered guilty pleas.

Two Former Portfolio Managers Found Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court Of Insider Trading Schemes That Netted More Than $72 Million In Illegal Profits, The United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, December 17, 2012

Hedge Fund Managers Convicted of Insider-Trading Scheme, Bloomberg, December 18, 2012


More Blog Posts:
$78M Insider Trading Scam: "Operation Perfect Hedge” Leads to Criminal Charges for Seven Financial Industry Professionals, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 18, 2012

Texas Securities Fraud: SEC Charges Life Partners Holdings Inc. in Life Settlement Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 4, 2012

Insider Trading: Former FrontPoint Partners Hedge Fund Manager Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 20, 2011

Continue reading "Ex-Hedge Fund Portfolio Managers Convicted in $72M Insider Trading Scams" »

November 8, 2012

Louisiana-Based Hedge Fund Manager Charged by SEC with Securities Fraud Related for Allegedly Concealing RMBS Losses

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against hedge fund manager Walter A. Morales and his Baton Rouge-based firm Commonwealth Advisors with allegedly defrauding investors by concealing the millions of dollars in losses sustained from investments linked to residential mortgage-backed securities during the economic crisis. The SEC wants a jury trial and it is seeking permanent enjoinment, penalties, disgorgement, and prejudgment interest.

According to the Commission's RMBS lawsuit, Morales and his financial firm caused the hedge funds that they oversaw to purchase Collybus, which were the most risky and lowest tranches of a collateralized debt obligation. They then sold MBS into the CDO at prices they had received four months prior while being fully aware that during this time the RMBS market had declined. As the CDO investments continued to not do well, Morales allegedly told firm employees to engage in cross-trades by conducting manipulative trades with the hedge funds they advised so that a $32 million loss sustained by one of the funds in the Collybus investment could be hidden. Morales and his firm then allegedly lied to investors, which included individuals and pension funds, about the worth and quantity of the mortgage-backed assets in the funds and created bogus internal documents so that their false valuations could be justified.

Also, even though Morales and Commonwealth likely knew that the losses would continue for some time, the SEC contends that the two of them conducted over 150 cross-trades between two hedge funds they provided advice to and another one of their hedge funds at prices under Commonwealth’s valuation for those securities in June 2008. After the trades were made, Morales is said to have instructed an employee to designate the securities as having fair market value, creating a $19 million gain for the acquiring hedge fund that was fraudulent and at cost to the funds that were sold. The cross-trades were conducted even though Morales had represented that it would not make such trades.

The SEC also claims Morales deceived a prime brokers by representing the transactions as legitimate and at current market prices, as well as its largest investor by misrepresenting the latter’s exposure to the CDO. Although he had promised that the investor’s exposure to Collybus would be limited, by the middle of 2008 its exposure was almost double. Morales also allegedly made up false minutes after the investor found out that Commonwealth was not going along with its valuation procedures that it had stated.

SEC Charges Baton Rouge-Based Investment Adviser with Hiding Losses From Mortgage-Backed Securities Investments, SEC, November 8, 2012

Read the SEC Complaint (PDF)


More Blog Posts:
Wells Fargo Securities Settles for Over $6.5M SEC Charges Over Allegedly Improper Sale of ABCP Investments with Risky MBS and CDOs, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 14, 2012

Harbinger Capital Partners LLC and Hedge Fund Adviser Philip A. Falcone Face SEC Securities Charges Over Client Asset Misappropriation and Market Manipulation Allegations, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, June 29, 2012

Securities Lawsuit Against Options Clearing Corporation and Chicago Board Options Exchange Can Proceed Says Illinois Appellate Court, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 24, 2012

Continue reading "Louisiana-Based Hedge Fund Manager Charged by SEC with Securities Fraud Related for Allegedly Concealing RMBS Losses " »