Articles Posted in Schwab Corporation

The Securities and Exchange Commission has sanctioned thirteen financial firms, including UBS Financial Services (UBS), Charles Schwab and Co. (SCHW), J.P. Morgan Securities (JPM), and Stifel Nicolaus & Co. (SF), for the improper sales of Puerto Rican junk bonds. A $100,00 minimum denomination had been established in junk bonds of $3.5 billion made by Puerto Rico several months ago. An SEC probe, however, revealed that there had been 66 instances when firms sold the bonds in transactions of under $100,000.

Municipal bond offerings are supposed to have a set minimum denomination that determines the smallest amount that a firm can sell to an investor during a single transaction. Typically, municipal issuers will establish high minimum denominations for junk bonds with a greater default risk. This is done to limit the bonds from ending up in the accounts of investors who may not be able to handle the risks.

The firms and their fines: UBS Financial Services for $56,400, Charles Schwab & Co. for $61,800, Oppenheimer & Co. (OPY) for $61,200, Wedbush Securities Inc. for $67,200, Hapoalim Securities USA for $54,000, TD Ameritrade (AMTD) for $100,800, Interactive Brokers LLC for $56,000, Stifel Nicolaus & Co. (SF) for $60,000, Investment Professionals Inc. for $67,800, Riedl First Securities Co. of Kansas for $130,000, J.P. Morgan Securities for $54,000, National Securities Corporation for $60,000, and Lebenthal & Co. for $54,000.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is refining its new policy for looking into its arbitrators. The move is seen as even more essential in the wake of a court’s decision to dismiss an arbitration ruling that was decided on in part by someone who was indicted during a case against financial firm Goldman Sachs (GS).

Among the steps to be implemented is the use of Google to run searches on arbitrators right before they are appointed to a FINRA arbitration case. The SRO is also preparing to run annual background checks on its 6,500 arbitrators even after being checked when they applied for the arbitrator position.

The industry-funded watchdog’s actions are coming into effect at the same time as lawmakers are upping the pressure to put a stop to broker-dealers making investors arbitrate disputes-an agreement they consent to when they agree to work with the brokerage firm. This causes customers to forfeit their right to go to court over the disagreement. Meantime, consumer groups have been pressing the SEC to place restrictions on the arbitration agreement practice, and a new bill introduced by US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) would modify the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act so that these mandatory agreements are banned.

One of the leading private advocacy groups in the country is urging investors who lost money in the Charles Schwab YieldPlus funds to opt out of the class action lawsuit so they can file individual arbitration claims. The Wall Street Fraud Watchdog sees no reason why you should accept up to 20 cents on the dollar when you can get back more with an individual claim filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The deadline for opting out is Monday, December 28, 2009.

Investors that may qualify as class members acquired Schwab YieldPlus Fund shares between May 31, 2006 and March 17, 2008. In California, residents who held shares from this fund beginning September 1, 2006 also are part of this class action.

Like the Wall Street Fraud Watchdog, our stockbroker fraud lawyers believe it is unfair that investors should get so little back for so much investment. Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP represents investors throughout the US who suffered financial losses from investing in Schwab YieldPlus funds. Investors say they were deceived about the risks involved when the funds allegedly were marketed and sold as cash alternatives. Investors also have accused Schwab of leaving out key information in the YieldPlus funds disclosure and registration statements. Schwab denies the allegations.

Investors who invested into YieldPlus Funds issued by the Charles Schwab Corp. must take immediate action to avoid being limited in recovery to the amount obtained through a class action suit. Many with significant losses have been advised by attorneys to seek individual recovery in Securities Arbitration through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Those with smaller losses are being advised to remain in the class action.

Most investors who seek recovery of investment losses through private claims receive a greater portion of their losses than those who remain in class actions, even after paying expenses including legal fees. In some cases investors can recover many times the amount paid through class action settlements.

To file a private claim a YieldPlus investor must “opt out” of the class on or before December 28, 2009. This requires the investor to provide a written statement requesting exclusion from the Schwab YieldPlus class-action lawsuit, sign and date the request, include their mailing address and mail this information by the due date. It is highly recommended that this be done earlier than that date and on a form provided by the Administrator. Any flaw in the process can result in a failure to be eligible to proceed.

Earlier this month, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel found Charles Schwab Corp. liable for $542,340 in an investor claim against the company over its YieldPlus short-term bond fund. This case is one of numerous individual arbitration and class action lawsuits against the San Francisco-based investment firm because of the fund.

The Schwab YieldPlus Fund had assets worth over $13 billion last year, but the fund suffered major losses this year because of mortgage-backed securities. At the end of last week, the fund’s assets were worth $432 million.

In this latest arbitration claim, investor Jeffrey Nielson accused Schwab and representative Darin Beckering of purposely misleading him when he purchased the ultrashort-bond fund because they did not fully disclose the extent to which the fund would be exposed to the subprime-mortgage market. Nielson also claims he was never informed that the Schwab YieldPlus Fund was a proprietary fund.

A class action law suit has been filed on behalf of those who bought Schwab YieldPlus Investor Funds Investor Shares and Schwab YieldPlus Funds Select Shares against the Schwab Corporation, the underwriter and investment adviser connected to the funds, and several Schwab officers and directors. However, many smart investors are instead seeking greater recovery by filing their own cases.

The investor plaintiffs in the class action claim the defendants misled them when they provided false statements about the funds’ lack of diversification and the degree to which the funds were exposed to subprime-backed securities. The plaintiffs say that the funds-marketed as a safe alternative to money market funds-actually had more than half of its fund assets invested in the mortgage industry.

The funds are down significantly. Through March 26, The Schwab YieldPlus Investor Fund (SWYPX) has fallen 17% , while the Schwab California Tax-Free YieldPlus Fund (SWYCX) has dropped by 9% . Investors say that the defendants were in violation of Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 when they misrepresented the funds to investors, marketing them with the goal of looking for high current income coupled with minimum share price changes.

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