Articles Posted in Oil and Gas Claims

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin has filed civil charges accusing Oakdale Wealth Management financial advisors Michael O’Keefe and James Daly of using over $11M of client assets to make risky bets on oil and gas investments. The state regulator accused them of employing a “one-size-fits-all” approach when managing investors’ money. Oakdale Wealth Management is a registered investment advisor (RIA) that the two men founded in 2006.

According to Galvin’s complaint, Daly and O’Keefe gambled away clients’ money in the oil and gas market. The two investment advisors are accused of spending more than $11M of investors’ funds to make 2000 energy-related investment purchases, including Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). Their victims included a number of senior citizens who were saving money to retire, blue-collar workers, a charitable organization, and a widow.

The Massachusetts regulator contends that even though the risk tolerance levels, investment goals, and financial situations of Oakdale’s clients varied, the two financial advisers made the decision to place almost all of them in high-risk, publicly traded investments related to energy, including oil and gas investments. This, even as the firm’s written policies and procedures articulated that investment decisions would be specifically tailored according to each client’s goals and the degree of risk they could handle.

Enbridge Inc. (ENB) has consolidated its acquisition of master limited partnership (MLP) operations in Texas by approving the acquisition of all outstanding Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP) public Class A common units, as well as all outstanding Enbridge Energy Management LLC (EEQ) public listed shares. Two deals had been earmarked with an over $3.5B value when news of their pending purchase became public knowledge a few months ago.

Both MLPs will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). They will now become Enbridge subsidiaries.

News of the completed acquisitions came just days after Enbridge fulfilled its acquisition of Spectra Energy Partners, which is also an MLP based in Houston. In September, Enbridge announced it would acquire what was left of Enbridge Income Fund Holdings Inc. (ENF), which is based in Canada.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced this week that Christopher Faulkner, a Texas businessman, will pay $23.8M to settle oil and gas charges involving an alleged over $80M securities scam that bilked hundreds of investors. Faulkner, who called himself the “Frack Master” and claimed to be an expert in hydraulic fracturing, is accused of setting up several companies and then selling interests in oil and gas prospects to investors in Texas and other US states.

The regulator contends that Faulkner:

  • “Systematically deceived” investors through offering materials that were “false and misleading.”

Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced plans to stop oil and gas pipelines from being able to structure themselves as Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) in order to get an income tax allowance for rates that are cost-of-service. Under the existing model, MLP customers pay a price that is regulated, part of which takes care of corporate tax charges.

Master Limited Partnerships aren’t required to pay corporate taxes since they pass through entities that distribute pre-tax earnings to unitholders. The latter are the ones that pay the taxes.

Any new rule related to this matter would likely not go into effect until 2020. Still, the government agency’s news affected trading on a number of MLPs, including the Alerian MLP ETF (exchange-traded fund), Energy Transfer Partners, TC PipeLines, Williams Partners, Crossamerica Partners, and several others.

Valor Capital Asset Management LLC and its owner, Texas-based investment adviser Robert Mark Magee, have settled US Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing them of defrauding investors by engaging in cherry picking. As part of the settlement, Magee is banned from the securities industry and will pay over $715K.

The SEC contends that while trading securities in the firm’s omnibus account, Magee would wait to allocate the trades until after watching their performances throughout the day. He would then allocate a disproportionate amount of the more profitable trades to his accounts while sending the trades that were not profitable to his clients. This allowed him to profit at cost to clients. The SEC believes that his ill-gotten gains from cherry picking was over $505K.

For example, notes the SEC, the way in which Magee traded and allocated El Pollo Loco Holdings is “representative” of how he allegedly engaged in cherry picking. For five trading days in a row, trades in LOCO that were profitable went to his own account. When the price went down on the sixth day, he allocated the shares to six Valor client accounts instead of selling the shares at a loss.

Continue Reading ›

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against Ameratex Energy, Inc., Lewis Oil Company, Lewis Oil Corp., their CEO Thomas Lewis, and ex-Ameratex President William Fort over their alleged involvement in an $11.7M Texas oil and gas offering fraud. The companies are based in Plano, Texas.

According to the regulator, the companies and the two men sold unregistered securities to more than 150 investors while making misleading statements about how the proceeds would be used. They also allegedly provided false information regarding prospect wells and sales commissions, as well as provided “false guarantees” regarding the lending out and mingling of funds.

The securities that they offered were not registered with the SEC. The individuals selling the investments were not licensed brokers or associated with brokers that were registered.

Continue Reading ›

State Regulator Orders Cessation of $4M Oil and Gas Offering

In an Emergency Cease and Desist Order, the Texas Securities Commissioner has ordered Parker R. Hallam and Jason A. Gilbert, two Dallas residents, to stop their efforts to raise $4.4M in an oil and gas offering. The two men are accused of fraud allegations.

Hallam and Gilbert have been offering investors interest in a well project that would be based in Kansas. They reportedly intend to take $1M of investor funds as a management fee payment to SourceRock Energy Phoenix Prospect LP, which is the company that they do business as. Meantime, the rest of the funds would go toward leasing and building the well field. The two men have not, however, told investors that drilling costs are estimated to be at just around $750K.

Hallam also is accused of failing to tell investors that in 2016, the US Securities and Exchange Commission sued him and others over their alleged involvement in an $80M oil and gas fraud. Also, according to the Texas securities regulator, Gilbert failed to disclose that the Internal Revenue Service previously filed $548K in tax liens against him. The government agency also filed liens against Hallam, who has yet to pay nearly $143K of what he owes.

Continue Reading ›

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel has ruled that Hilliard Lyons LLC must pay claimants Troy and Elizabeth Benitone $569K. Hilliard Lyons, the wealth investment firm is accused of overconcentrating the Benitones’ accounts in Breitburn Energy Partners stock.

The claimants, in their oil and gas fraud case, alleged breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation and omission, common law fraud, breach of contract, and negligence supervision. The Benitones contend that Hilliard Lyons and its registered representative sold all of the claimants’ blue chip stocks, investing the money that was in their joint account and in Troy’s IRA in Breitburn. They lost $350K, with statutory damages at 10% on the purchase cost at $441K, from being over-concentrated in Breitburn.

The Benitones believe that it was the lack of diversification in their investments that put them at high risk of loss, especially as they had conservative investment goals and could not handle much risk at all. Also, Hilliard Lyons was the underwriter for the Breitburn Energy Partners stock.

Continue Reading ›

Financial Adviser Who Bilked Athletes, Including Mike Tyson, is Sentenced

Former SFX Financial Advisory Management Enterprises financial advisor Brian Ourand is sentenced to thirty years behind bars after he bilked a number of professional athletes, including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, ex-NBA basketball players Glen Rice and Dikembe Mutombo, and others. Ourand must also pay back $1M of what he stole.

Not only is he accused of forging the pro athletes’ signatures on checks that he cashed but also of taking credit cards out against these clients’ accounts to cover his own spending, including restaurants, clothing, and other bills. SFX fired him in 2011.

In 2015, Ourand was charged with wire fraud, federal mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft charges. He pleaded guilty to one criminal count of wire fraud.

Continue Reading ›

William Alexander Swell and his 7S Oil & Gas, which is a Texas-based oil and gas company, will pay $750K for allegedly misleading investors about commissions and administrative costs and for misappropriating a significant amount of their money. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the oil and gas company and its CEO raised nearly $7M from at least 70 investors in the US via unregistered offerings in oil and gas projects. Securities were sold to investors as units in eight of these joint venture projects. All of the projects were based in Texas.

In its complaint, the regulator accused Sewell and 7S of bringing in investors through sales agents and YouTube videos, one of which guaranteed “some type of return.” Meantime, offering documents in the alleged Texas securities fraud purportedly stated that no more than 10% of investor funds would go toward marketing costs, commissions, and salaries, while 85% would be used on oil and gas operations.

Instead, the SEC is claiming, sales agents received up to 35% in commissions from investor proceeds while only 57% maximum of investor money went to the wells. Sewell and 7S are accused of using over $90K of investor funds on entertainment bills, his children’s school tuition, and other personal expenditures. “Sham ‘royalty payments’” were allegedly issued to some investors to make it appear as if they were getting a return on their investments.

Continue Reading ›

Contact Information