Greco & Greco's lawyers represent investors to recover losses caused by securities fraud, churning, lack of suitability, negligence, sales of unregistered securities, unauthorized trading, and other misconduct by stock brokers, investment advisors, financial planners and their firms.
The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority announced this week that it would begin buying back a portion of its auction rate securities at a discount on the Restricted Securities Trading Network. See the related news stories in Forbes and the St. Louis Business Journal.
This news is a mixed blessing for investors stuck with these or other auction rate securities. While such a buy-back will finally allow them to escape from these investments, they will probably have to take a loss on the investment if it is bought back at a discount on a secondary market. Many investors around the country were sold auction rate securities by major brokerage firms who incorrectly claimed they were safe, liquid, cash equivalents. This has turned out to not be the case as evidenced by the collapse of the auction markets earlier this year. Such sales practices can form the basis for claims of federal and state securities fraud among other causes of action.
If you are an investor who was sold Auction Rate Securities, and you would like to discuss your legal options with an attorney, please Contact Greco & Greco.
Morgan Stanley was fined $3 million and forced to pay $9.5 million in restitution to arbitration Claimants as a result of its failure to produce emails in response to document requests in arbitrations with customers. According to the FINRA press release, Morgan Stanley incorrectly represented in the arbitration proceedings that “the destruction of the firm’s email servers in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center resulted in the loss of all pre-9/11 email.”
The unknown at this point is the amount of financial benefit gained by Morgan Stanley by this behavior through arbitration settlements and awards, and whether this benefit far exceeds the relatively small punishment ordered by FINRA.
The SEC reported at its 2nd Annual Senior Summit that it was working on codifying suitability rules as they apply to recommendations for the purchase of securities by stock brokers, and further clarifying sales practice principals for investment professionals. If properly crafted, additional guidance in these areas should help prevent abuse of investors as well as provide additional tools for attorneys representing investors who have been abused by their stock brokers.
The SEC, FINRA, and state regulators also reported the results of their “free lunch” sweep of seminars targeted as seniors. The findings included 59% of the brokerage firms involved failing to properly supervise the seminars, and 23% of the seminars including advice that was unsuitably risky for senior investors.
Hedge funds are largely unregulated investment funds which are typically limited to investment by accredited investors, i.e. high net worth individuals, pension funds, and other institutional investors. These funds are not restricted by many of the regulations and disclosure requirements of mutual funds, and they have evolved into a widely diverse industry investing in an array of traditional and non-traditional investments.
As set out in the NASD Notice to its Members linked below, the NASD / FINRA has expressed its concern regarding the sale of hedge funds by its representatives to retail customers. The Notice emphasizes that the risks and disadvantages associated with hedge funds must be fully disclosed to retail customers, and the sales representative or member must use due diligence to investigate the fund and must make a customer specific determination of suitability for the customer?s situation.
NASD Notice to Members
As set out in this FINRA press release Morgan Stanley was fined and forced to pay restitution to retail customers for overcharging for corporate bond sales and for “having an inadequate supervisory system for monitoring the pricing of corporate fixed income securities sold to customers.”
The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation fined Morgan Stanley $250,000 for failing to supervise sales representatives at its Providence, Rhode Island office. According to the Rhode Island press release below, the charges related to the replacement of mutual funds with more expensive mutual funds and variable annuities.
Rhode Island Press Release
The NASD has issued an Investor Alert regarding the purchase of life settlements, also known as senior settlements. Unlike viaticals, life settlements generally involve the sale of life insurance policies on policyholder individuals who are not terminally ill.
NASD Investor Alert
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has also issued a statement regarding the risks involved in purchases of such settlements by individuals: it is not a liquid investment, there is no guaranteed rate of return, and you could be responsible for paying the premiums on the policy if the insured?s policy if they do not die within a certain time.
NAIC Statement to Consumers
The North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) has published a top ten list of investment scams, including ponzi schemes, affinity fraud, unlicensed securities sellers, prime bank schemes, and variable annuities sales practices:
NASAA Top Ten Investment Scams.