Articles Posted in REITs

Nicholas Schorsch’s former real estate investment trust (REIT) American Realty Capital Properties Inc. (ARCP) has arrived at a $1B settlement with investors who sued over the company’s accounting scandal that led to inflated financial results five years ago. Now called Vereit, the REIT will pay $738.5M of the class action securities fraud settlement, while Schorsch’s American Realty Capital (AR Capital) will pay $225M. American Realty Capital Property’s ex-CFO Brian Block will pay $12.5M of the settlement. Meantime, Grant Thornton, the firm’s auditor during the period of the scandal, will pay $49M.

American Realty Capital Properties admitted to a $23M accounting error in late 2014. After ARCP restated its financials, investors sold their shares, causing a $3B drop in the REIT’s value. At one point, ARCP held $20B in assets.

Investors sued, accusing the REIT of incorrectly stating financials so as to spur acquisitions and inflate financial results. Two years ago, Block pleaded guilty to securities fraud related to the accounting misstatements.

Did you invest with Centaurus Financial, Inc. or J.P. Turner & Co., Inc. and suffer losses in Structured CDs, Structured Notes, Non-Traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”), or other investments?  If so, we may be able to help you recover your losses.

The Doss law firm and Shepherd, Smith, Edwards & Kantas are investigating claims on behalf of investors, many of which are retired and current Flour Corp. employees, who have suffered losses at the hands of Centaurus financial advisors who were formerly with J.P. Turner.  Those advisors, in many cases, mismanaged client investment accounts by placing them in high-risk and illiquid structured CDs, structured notes, non-traded REITs and other complicated investments.

Structured products, such as structured CDs and notes, are very complex and highly risky investments that are rarely suitable for most investors.  Similarly, non-traded REITs and other private placement investments are illiquid and risky investments that are not appropriate for most individual investors, especially retirees.  These investments are often sold as being safe and paying higher interest rates than most other investments.  However, the promised higher rates are often only guaranteed for a short time – typically a year – and are much riskier than more traditional investments.  Additionally, with most private placements, the supposed interest payments are often just a return of the investor’s own money, not a rate of return for the investment.  Ultimately, these investments typically lock investors into them long-term, resulting in limited income and often substantial losses.

Trouble is brewing with a number of nontraded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and now, investors are filing claims for their losses. One of the REITs, NorthStar Healthcare Income, Inc., suspended distributions to investors on February 1.

Closed to new subscriptions since December 2015, the publicly registered REIT was set up to acquire, originate, and oversee securities in the healthcare industry. Northstar told investors that challenges involving performance and operations had resulted in a reduced estimated value/share in 2018 compared to 2017—from an $8.50 NAV/share at the end of June 2017 to $7.10 NAV/share in December 2018.

The nontraded REIT’s board cited a number of reasons for the decrease: a cash flow affected by the senior housing market, labor costs related to the investments that have impacted the REIT’s portfolio, more cash flow issues—this one impacting the skilled nursing industry—and assets’ income losses.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel has awarded eight retirement investors $1,019,211 in a Texas real estate investment trust case involving three United Development Funding (UDF) REITs. United Development Funding is made up of private and publicly traded investment funds that use investor money to give loans to land developers and homebuilders.

According to the claimants, IMS Securities, a Houston-based brokerage firm that is no longer in operation, and its chief executive Jackie Divono Wadsworth recommended through a third party that investors purchase retirement accounts in the:

  • United Development Funding II


SII Investments to Pay Back Clients Over Nontraded REITs

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is ordering SII Investments Inc. to repay clients who purchased non-traded real estate investment trusts through the independent brokerage firm. According to Galvin’s office, SII did not properly supervise these transactions.

It was last year that the Massachusetts regulator filed charges against SII, accusing the financial firm of failure to supervise and “dishonest or unethical conduct” related to non-traded REIT sales made to state residents. Galvin accused the broker-dealer of inflating the liquid net worth of clients by counting their annuities as liquid assets rather than non-liquid ones.

Investors who placed their funds in the Texas-based United Development Funding IV real estate investment trust are asking a federal judge to approve a $13.5M REIT fraud settlement they’d reached with the company over the allegations that it had been run like a Ponzi-like scam and concealed this. The plaintiffs contend that UDV IV and its affiliates not only made false statements but also they did not disclose material facts involving business and operations.

They brought their REIT fraud case against the UDF companies three years ago, accusing the defendants of using investors’ funds from newer offering to pay investors who had gotten involved in earlier offerings. The investors, who want class certification, alleged that disclosures they were offered were misleading and lending practices lacked transparency.

Both sides eventually arrived at the $13.5M settlement—$10.5M in cash and another $3M once the REIT hits its $75M cash flow target in two years. This deal is separate from a settlement the plaintiffs reached with UDF accountants, as well as those that underwrote and sold the allegedly fraudulent offerings.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred Jeffrey Palish, an ex-Wells Fargo (WFC) broker in the wake of allegations of senior investor fraud. The regulator is accusing him of stealing over $180K from an elderly client with no plans or means of paying her back.

Palish was let go by the firm last year after an internal probe found that he had made misstatements about these transactions. He was arrested last week in New Jersey and charged with theft by deception involving over $75K.

According to prosecutors, Palish may have stolen at least $600K from elderly clients and failed to pay back a $100K loan from two clients. NorthJersey.com reports that Palish took clients’ money by selling their stock holdings and putting the funds from those sales into a bank account in which he deposited checks from clients. He also is accused of making more than three dozen unauthorized wire transfers of about $300K in total to pay his credit card bills.

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SEC Accuses Atlanta Man of Misusing Over $1.2M in Investor Funds

In an enforcement action, the US Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing Timothy S. Batchelor of misusing over $1.2M in investor monies. The funds were supposed to go toward the development of a submarine vessel and to businesses involved in national security.

According to the regulator’s complaint, of the $2.4M that Batchelor raised from investors through the Specter Ventures Fund II, he improperly spent half of the money, including almost $250K to buy new cars and about $225K to cover student loans. He allegedly moved thousands of dollars in investor monies to his own relatives. Batchelor also is accused of trying to conceal his actions by faking a document that misrepresented unauthorized expenditures as a loan.

The United Development Funding, a beleaguered Texas real estate investment trust accused of running a $1B Ponzi-like scam, is suing a hedge fund manager for the allegedly “false and disparaging” statements that led to the fraud allegations.

The REIT came under fire two years ago after an investor website issued a report accusing UDF IV of being run like a Ponzi scam. For the last two years, our Texas securities fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas LTD, LLP has been fielding calls from investors who suspect they may have suffered financial losses from investing in UDF Funds.

According to UDF’s complaint, filed in Dallas County, hedge fund manager Kyle Bass and his Hayman Capital Management are the ones that anonymously published the Ponzi allegations online and then later on a proprietary site. They allegedly did this to damage the UDF Funds.

In its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission about the complaint, the REIT accused the defendants of engaging in “false and disparaging statements,” including that: the UDF Funds were part of a Ponzi fraud, they were unable to run their own business, had insolvency problems that made their shares “worthless,” their real estate developments that were “not genuine,” and they “misappropriated” investors’ funds. The filing countered that the UDF Funds were “successful” and had actual real estate developments. The REIT claims that because Bass had set up a “large short position” in the Texas REIT before publishing the false allegations, he and his company “profited” from the damages wreaked by their claims.

Bass had a short position in the REIT. Once he disclosed this news, United Development Funding shares plunged in price. In response to this lawsuit, the hedge fund manager claims it is meritless.

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In New York, a federal judge has approved a $31M shareholder fraud settlement reached in the class action securities case filed by investors that purchased stock in former broker-dealer RCS Capital. The plaintiffs, including lead plaintiffs the City of Providence, Rhode Island and the Oklahoma Police Pension Fund, had sued the brokerage firm, its head Nicholas Schorsch, and other ex-executives in 2014 claiming that that RCAP and the other defendants misled investors with “false and misleading statements and omissions” about RCAP’s business prospects.

The investors contend that they purchased RCS Capital stock at prices that were artificially inflated because of these statements. They are claiming massive shareholder losses.

RCAP, once controlled by Schorsch and others, was a privately held brokerage firm that wholesaled American Reality Capital nontraded REITs. Schorsch also owned ARC, which set up and managed the real-estate investment trusts.

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