Articles Posted in Securities Fraud


$300M Stock Scam Allegations Lead to Guilty Verdict

A Brooklyn jury has convicted ex-OmniView Capital Advisors LLC CEO Abraxas J. Discala of conspiracy, wire fraud, and securities fraud in a $300M market rigging scam/ pump-and dump fraud.  A second defendant, lawyer Kyleen Cane, was acquitted after initially being charged with conspiracy and securities fraud.

According to prosecutors, the stock fraud occurred from 10/2012 through 7/2014. Trades in four publicly traded companies were reportedly involved.

In an agreement reached with the North American State Securities Administrators Association, LPL Financial (LPLA) will pay $26M in fines to a number of US states and jurisdictions over unregistered securities sales going back more than a decade. NASAA reports that the settlement comes after a task force was set up last summer to probe LPL’s sales of unregistered, non-exempt  securities to clients.  Now, LPL will pay $499K to each state securities regulator.  It also must buy back certain securities that it sold to investors going as far back as October 2006.

Details of the LPL Settlement for the Sale of Unregistered Securities 

Per the settlement, LPL will offer to repurchase securities in the brokerage firm’s accounts that were found to have been unregistered, fixed-income or non-exempt equity securities. Every buyback offer will come with 3% simple interest annually. Requirements were also put in place for investors with “affected securities” that were moved or sold from an LPL account.


Panasonic Fined by United States in Bribery Scheme

Panasonic Corp. will pay over $143M in disgorgement plus prejudgment interest to resolve a US Securities and Exchange Commission case involving a bribery scheme, accusing the company of accounting fraud violations and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Panasonic consented to the order, which finds that the Japan-based corporation violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. In a parallel criminal, the company will pay a $137M penalty in a deferred prosecution deal reached with the US Justice Department, which accused  Panasonic of violating the FCPA over books and records.

The SEC contends that Panasonics Avionics Corp. a Panasonic subsidiary that offers in-flight entertainment and communications systems, offered a government official a consulting position at a state-owned airline to incentivize that individual into assisting the avionics company in garnering business. During the time of the scam, said the SEC’s order, the avionics company was negotiating two deals valued at over $700K with the airline.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against investment adviser Amrit J.S. Chahal, who founded Kane Capital Investment Group, LLC. Chahal is accused of using his company to solicit about $1.4M from about 50 people, some of them friends and family members. Now, the regulator wants a permanent injunction, penalties, and disgorgement.

According to the SEC’s securities fraud complaint, from at least 2/2015, the investment advisor targeted prospective investors by telling them he was a seasoned trader who could make clients “above-market returns” by employing a trading strategy whose risks were low. In truth, contends the Commission, Chahal had no previous substantive experience in the securities industry or in trading securities for others.

Investors gave Chahal their money with the understanding that he would use the funds to buy and sell futures, options, and commodities. He told them they would have to pay a $2.5% yearly fee and a performance-based fee that was 10% of an investor’s returns that went beyond a yearly 30% return rate. Chahal also falsely claimed that Kane Capital employed the most current software to help it garner the “highest possible profit” from every investment, with a focus on choosing investments that were high-yield and low-risk. In truth, said the Commission, the accused investment advisor “traded risky options and margins,” as well as sold and purchased commodities and futures.

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.

Santander Securities LLC has notified its Puerto Rico clients by letter that its San Juan branch will shutter its doors to the public on May 25. Santander Securities (SAN) is Banco Santander’s investment division. The move is part of the investment wing’s plan to move to a service-only model rather than its model that involves offering investment advice and soliciting sales. A scaled down staff will stay on at the branch after it closes.

Santander Securities in Puerto Rico has come under close scrutiny over the last five years. It is one of the investment firms that came under fire beginning in 2013 when Puerto Rico bonds and bond funds saw a steep drop in value and tens of thousands of investors sustained huge investment losses. Many of these investors should never have even purchased such volatile securities, which were always too risky for their portfolios and not in line with their investment goals. Yet Santander Securities brokers, as well as brokers from UBS Puerto Rico (UBS-PR), Banco Popular, and other investment firms, pushed them on clients, often in very high concentrations.

According to Bloomberg, between late 2012 and 2013, Santander Securities marketed and sold more than $280 million in Puerto Rico closed-end funds and municipal bonds, even as it shed its own holdings of these same securities. In 2015, the investment bank resolved allegations brought by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) accusing the firm of deficiencies involving its structured product business, including its handling of reverse-convertible securities sales to retail customers in Puerto Rico.

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Barclays Capital Inc. (BARC) and a number of its affiliates will pay $2B to settle the United States government’s civil case alleging fraud involving the underwriting and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities. The settlement comes after a three-year probe. The case is US v. Barclays Capital Inc.

The US accused Barclays of taking part in a fraud to sell three dozen residential mortgage-backed securities deals, causing investors to suffer billions of losses. More than $31B of Alt-A and subprime mortgage loans were securitized and over half of these went on to default. The RMBSs were sold leading up to the 2007 financial crisis.

The bank and its affiliates allegedly misled investors about the quality of the loans backing the RMBS deals, including purposely misrepresenting key features of the loans that involved. The British bank, meantime, maintains that it did not mislead investors about the quality of the loans. The government, however, contends that Barclays committed wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and violated the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.

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Man Accused of Targeting Religious Congregation Members Admits to $13M Fraud

Sung “Laurence” Hong has pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud, as well as to pretending to be an investment adviser so he could bilk clients of almost $13M. His plea agreement states that Hong mostly targeted members of religious organizations.

This is not the first time Hong that was caught for investor fraud. He served three years in prison after defrauding a neighbor of about $800K. Now, he may end up back in jail for decades.

SEC Files Case Against Man Accused in $250K Ponzi Scam

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed charges against Niket Shah, who is accused of stealing over $250K from coworkers and friends in a Ponzi scam. The regulator’s case comes in the wake of complaints brought by investors.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against Wedbush Securities Inc. The regulator is accusing the brokerage firm of not supervising registered representative Timary Delorme, 59, and disregarding warning signs that she was involved in a pump-and-dump fraud that targeted retail investors. Delorme has settled the SEC’s charges against her.

According to the SEC, Delorme took part in certain trades to manipulate the stocks. She received benefits, which were paid to her spouse, for getting customers to invest in microcap stocks that were part of a pump-and-dump fraud run by Izak Zirk Engelbrecht, who also has been subject to civil, as well as criminal charges. Engelbrecht, previously called Izak Zirk de Maison before adopting his wife’s last name, is accused of running the scam that involved microcap company Gepco Ltd.

Also, Delorme and her husband are accused of selling shares for Engelbrecht and sending him the money for the sales while she was paid a commission. This purportedly allowed Engelbrecht to hide the sales.

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Fyre Festival Founder Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Must Pay Back Investors

Billy McFarland, the founder of the failed Fyre Festival who pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, must may pay back millions of dollars to investors whom he bilked. In Manhattan federal court, McFarland acknowledged that he received more than $26M in investor funds for the Bahamas festival that promised catered dining, luxury accommodations, and renowned performers. Instead, attendees were greeted with no food or tent accommodations.

Billboard reports that eventually prepackaged sandwiches were served, local musicians performed, and the festival was postponed even though it had already begun. Travelers who headed back home encountered rescheduled and delayed flights. Many festival employees went unpaid.

The FBI arrested McFarland last summer. He has since admitted that he solicited investors using bogus documents touting financial holdings that he didn’t possess.

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