Oppenheimer Funds Investors Can Proceed with Their Securities Fraud Lawsuit

A federal court has decided that Oppenheimer municipal bond fund holders can go ahead with their securities fraud complaint against Oppenheimer Funds. The plaintiffs of In re Oppenheimer Rochester Funds Group Securities Litigation are alleging federal securities law violations. Funds involved included:

• AMT-Free Municipals Fund • Rochester National Municipals Fund • AMT-Free New York Municipals Fund • Rochester Fund Municipals • California Municipal Fund • Pennsylvania Municipal Fund • New Jersey Municipal Fund
The shareholders of seven municipal bonds had their securities fraud lawsuits consolidated into one case in two years ago. They are claiming that the Oppenheimer Funds neglected to reveal in their registration and prospectus statements that risks were being taken that weren’t in line with their declared strategy and investment goals. The investors argued that even as the funds explicitly said that preserving capital was a clear investment goal, the true objective was one of “high-risk, high-return.” Seeing as certain market conditions were foreseeable, the shareholders believe this placed their capital at great, undisclosed risk, which did come to fruition during the credit crisis of 2007-2008. This is when the Funds’ holding in highly leveraged, complex securities set off cash reserve and payment duties that required for the assets be sold under conditions that most likely were not to the funds’ advantage. The plaintiffs say that because of this, the funds underperformed compared to other municipal bond funds.

They are also claiming that the significant drop in the Funds’ shares’ values can be linked to the deviations between the stated and actual objectives. After investors were notified in October and November 2008 via prospectus supplements of what the Funds’ investments true liquidity risks were, share prices then went crashing. The net asset value of the 7 funds dropped by about 30-50% that year while similar municipal bonds only went down by 10-15%.

The defendants moved to dismiss the consolidate case, claiming that the investors’ losses were triggered by the credit crisis and not because of what was written (or not included) in the funds’ prospectuses. They also argued that they were making a forward-looking statement when they made the “preservation of capital” a goal and had adequately disclosed the risks involved.

In the U.S. District Court, District of Colorado, the federal judge turned down the Defendants’ motion to toss out the consolidated lawsuits. Judge John L. Kane, Jr. also rejected their claim that federal securities laws exempts mutual funds from liability because drops in those funds’ value are a result of corresponding downturns in the funds’ investments’ value and not of statements (whether true or false) in their prospectuses.

Oppenheimer Rochester Funds Lose Dismissal Bid, Face Trial, Bloomberg/Business Week, October 25, 2011
Oppenheimer Muni Bond Investors May Sue Over Alleged Misstatements in Prospectuses, BNA Securities Law Daily, October 26, 2011

More Blog Posts:
8/31/11 is Deadline for Opting Out of $100M Oppenheimer Mutual Funds Class Action Settlement, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 17, 2011
Oppenheimer Champion Income Fund Resulted In Significant Financial Losses for Investors from Citigroup, UBS, Merrill Lynch, and Other Large Financial Firms, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 16, 2010
Chase Investment Services Corporation Ordered by FINRA to Pay Back $1.9M for Unsuitable Sales of Floating-Rate Loan Funds and UITs, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, November 19, 2011
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