Articles Posted in High-Yield Bonds

Brokers May Have Downplayed The Risks of Junk High-Yield Bond Funds

Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm at is offering free initial case consultations to investors of the following high-yield bond funds, also known as junk bond funds.

High-yield bond funds tend to have lower-quality bonds. Their portfolios usually include high-income debt securities in which at least 65% of bond assets are unrated or rated poorly at the BB level or lower. While junk-bond funds offer higher yields than other portfolios, they are also more vulnerable to the economy, credit risks, and other adverse events. 

Hundreds of Broker-Dealers May Have Sold Up to $2B of High-Yield Junk Bonds 

InvestmentNews reports that according to an industry insider, GWG Holdings may have issued up to $2B of high-yield junk bonds in recent years. While Emerson Equity is the managing broker-dealer for the GWG Issuer, there may have been hundreds of other broker-dealers that also sold L-Bonds to investors. 

In a January 15, 2022 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), GWG disclosed that it hasn’t been able to issue $13.6M in principal payments and interest that it owes to L Bond investors. The Dallas-based alternative asset manager has a 30-day grace period to complete the payments or risk default. 

RBC Capital Markets Settlement With FINRA Includes a Fine and Restitution 

RBC Capital Markets has reached an agreement with FINRA in which the broker-dealer will pay $1M to resolve allegations of overconcentration in customers’ accounts involving high-yield bonds. Without denying or admitting to the self-regulatory organization’s (SRO’s) findings, RBC consented to a censure, a $550K fine, and more than $456K in restitution. 

According to FINRA, the brokerage firm did not identify over 100 client accounts with conservative profiles that should have been reviewed for a possible unsuitable concentration of high-yield bonds. 

Denver Investors May Be Facing Losses from High Yield Bonds  

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in parts of the US, high-yield junk bonds have been underperforming. 

Not only that, but according to The Wall Street Journal, in early July the growing concern that there may be a bigger wave of pandemic cases coming caused junk bond yields to reach their highest levels in weeks as the high-risk debt “underperformed” in certain credit markets.

The SEC has filed securities charges against Harbinger Capital Partners LLC and its owner Philip A. Falcone. The SEC is accusing them of a number of charges, including engaging in market manipulation and client asset misappropriation. Also facing SEC charges for allegedly helping them is former Harbinger COO Peter A. Jenson.

The Commission accused Falcone, who is a hedge fund adviser headquartered in New York, of paying his taxes with fund assets, getting involved in a “short squeeze” that was not legal to manipulate the prices of bonds, and secretly favoring some clients to the disadvantage of other clients. The SEC contended that after short selling equity securities during a period that was restricted, Harbinger then illegally purchased the same ones in a public offering.

The Commission claims that rather than use legal means to cover the $113.2M in personal taxes that he owed, Falcone fraudulently used fund assets by borrowing that amount from Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situations Fund, L.P. (investors had been suspended from redeeming from this fund). The regulator says that all of this was done without investors’ permission.

The Commission also contends that Harbinger and Falcone waited about five months to reveal the loan because they were worried that making the hedge fund adviser’s financial state known could negatively impact both investors’ withdrawals and Falcone’s ability to bring in more investments for the other Harbinger funds.

The SEC is accusing Harbinger and Falcone, with Jenson’s help, of making a number of key omissions and misrepresentations in getting legal counsel and when communicating with investors about: the financing options that had been available to Falcone, the reasons why he needed the loan, the fund’s ability to not harm investors while covering the loan, the loan’s conditions and terms, and the part that Harbinger’s legal counsel played. Falcone paid back the loan last year after the SEC started investigating this matter. In connection with this alleged scam, the SEC separately filed and settled cease-and-desist and administrative proceedings against Harbinger.

The Commission also filed another civil case contending that between ‘06 through early ‘08, two Harbinger entities and Falcone engaged in market manipulation of distressed high-yield bonds issued by MAXX Holdings Inc. The three of them allegedly took part in a “short squeeze” that was not legal and, on Falcone’s order, Harbinger bought a huge position in the bonds in 4/06 and 6/06.

When he heard rumors that a financial services firm was shorting the bonds and suggesting that its clients follow suit, Falcone allegedly decided to retaliate by telling the funds that were managed by Harbinger to purchase every bond that was available, which caused the funds’ stakes to go up about 13% more than what was actually available.

The financial services company and its clients were then told that they had to settle their MAAX short sales that were outstanding, which was not really possible given the circumstances. As the financial services company went on to bid for the bonds every day, the bond price doubled. Falcone is accused of then taking part in transactions, at prices that were both inflated and arbitrary, with a number of short sellers.

SEC Complaint: Harbinger Capital Partners LLC; Philip A. Falcone; and Peter A. Jenson (PDF)

SEC Complaint: Philip A. Falcone, Harbinger Capital Partners Offshore Manager, L.L.C., and Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situations GP, L.L.C. (PDF)

More Blog Posts:
Hedge Fund Manager Raj Rajaratnam Ordered by SEC to Pay $92.8M Penalty for Insider Trading, Stockbroker Fraud, November 12, 2011

Accused Texas Ponzi Scammer May Have Defrauded Investors of $2M, Stockbroker Fraud, August 3, 2011

Montford Associates to Pay $650,000 in Securities and Exchange Commission Penalties Over Failure to Disclose Payments from Hedge Fund, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, May 1, 2012

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