Articles Posted in Short-Term Trading

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has filed charges against broker-dealer Janney Montgomery Scott accusing the firm of not properly supervising broker Stephen Querzoli during his trading of Class A mutual fund shares from 2012 to 2017. According to the state regulator, these alleged mutual fund sales violations caused investors, mostly older customers, to pay nearly $200K in unwarranted commissions that were shared between Janney and Querzoli.

Class A mutual fund shares usually charge higher fees of up to 5.7% at the front-end. They also lead to higher commissions for the investment advisers and brokers selling them compared to what other mutual fund class shares would render.

Although Class A shares are meant to be held for at least five years, according to the Massachusetts regulator, Querzoli would sell clients’ Class A shares within months of their acquiring them, thereby engaging in short-term trading. This resulted in higher and additional commissions charged to customers.

Evergreen Investment Management Company, a Wells Fargo unit, has agreed to a $40 million settlement with federal and state regulators over allegations that it misrepresented securities in short-term bond funds. The settlement could be a sign that other fund providers, including Morgan Keegan, Charles Schwab Corp., and Fidelity Investments, may face similar lawsuits. Already bond providers are facing securities fraud lawsuits and arbitration claims from clients that experienced heavy losses from investing in debts that were either high risk or became illiquid.

The Massachusetts Securities Division and the Securities and Exchange Commission had accused Evergreen and one of its affiliates of inflating the value of its Ultra Short Opportunities Fund by up to 17%. The SEC says that this inflated value allowed the fund in 2007 and 2008 to be ranked high compared to other peer funds, when its true value should have placed it closer to the bottom of its class. At the time of the alleged violations, Evergreen was a Wachovia Corp. subsidiary.

With the housing crisis getting worse, Evergreen is accused of not using the information it had access to about mortgage-backed securities when engaging in the valuation process. Evergreen dealt with the fund by adjusting the prices on specific holdings, but only notified a select number of investors about the reasons for the re-pricings, as well as the possibility of adjustments in the future.

The investors that were given this information managed to leave the fund before their shares’ value went down even more. However, the other shareholders that did not receive the preferential information were left at a disadvantage. In June 2008, Evergreen closed the Ultra Short Fund, which, at the time, had $403 million in assets.

By agreeing to settle, Evergreen is not admitting to or disagreeing with the SEC’s findings. As part of the agreement, the Wells Fargo unit will pay $33 million to fund shareholders, $3 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, a $4 million SEC penalty, and $1 million to Massachusetts.

Evergreen settles state, US charges for $40 mln, Reuters, June 8, 2009
Settlement in Mutual Fund Case, NY Times, June 8, 2009 Continue Reading ›

U.S. Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission to expand its probe into whether any improper trading in investment banks’ shares has recently taken place. He wants the SEC to determine whether the rumors of misconduct are being circulated to drive certain investment banks, such as Bear Stearns, out of business.

In a letter addressed to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, Frank noted that there had been an “unusually high level of short-selling activity” in Bear Stearns stock right before the company fell apart. He also noted that similar trading in the stocks of other large investment banks has occurred.

Frank cited concerns that some of this trading may be orchestrated by market participants that are trying to bring the share prices down. Frank is calling on the SEC to investigate trading activity of stocks in all the big investment banks.

The SEC says that former Putnam Investment advisers Omid Kamshad and Justin Scott have settled charges that they improperly traded mutual fund shares. The SEC says that they did so without denying or admitting wrongdoing and are barred from future violations of the 1940 Investment Advisers Act.

In addition, Scott agreed to disgorging $489,439 plus prejudgment interest of $159,475, while Kamshad will disgorge $57,157 and a $13,709 prejudgment interest. They also agreed to being suspended from the advisory industry for one year and to each paying $400,000 civil penalties.

The SEC had accused both men of making short-term trades in their Putnam-administered compensation and retirement accounts, potentially causing harm to other shareholders. In this case, the SEC has alleged that by taking part in personal trading while being in charge in other investors’ funds, both men did not appear to have their investors interests in mind.

Contact Information