Oppenheimer Ordered To Pay $36.7M to Eight Investors of Alleged Horizon Private Equity III Ponzi Scam

Customers Were Sold Private Equity Shares By Ex-Georgia Broker and Southport Capital Investment Adviser John Woods 

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel in Atlanta has ordered Oppenheimer & Co. to pay several investors $36.7M in the wake of losses sustained in the alleged $110M Horizon Private Equity III Ponzi Scheme. The investment fraud was allegedly run by its former Georgia stockbroker John Justin Woods for several years, including while he was under the firm’s supervision. This award is six times what the claimants had sought. 

The investors had originally asked for punitive damages and $6M in compensatory damages after accusing the firm of broker-dealer negligence, and other claims, as well as of violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

(RICO) statute. The statute created an opening for three times the amount of damages sought to be awarded.

This significantly large arbitration award shows just how important it is to make sure that you are represented by seasoned FINRA attorneys who know how to maximize your chances for a full, or even greater, financial recovery from your brokerage firm. A securities fraud case is not the type of claim that you want to make without solid legal representation by your side from a securities attorney.

What Is the Horizon Private Equity III Ponzi Scam?

Ex-Oppenheimer broker John Woods, who later owned and operated Southport Capital (also named Livingston Group Asset Management Company) in Tennessee, purportedly raised $110M from more than 400 investors, including Oppenheimer customers, living all over the United States. Among his alleged victims were many older customers and retirees.

Prospective Horizon Private Equity III investors were purportedly told that the investment fund was low-risk and safe and that they would garner a fixed 6% to 7% yearly return rate. They also were led to believe they could get back their principal without having to pay a penalty.  Instead, in Ponzi-like fashion, earlier investors were allegedly paid from the funds that came from newer investors. Meantime, Horizon Private Equity III never made money from actual investments. 

John Woods remains under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is involved in over two dozen pending FINRA arbitration claims filed by investors pursuing damages.

Horizon Private Equity III investors also filed a class action securities lawsuit against Oppenheimer in 2021. They are accusing the broker-dealer of ignoring warning signs that Woods was running an alleged Ponzi scam. Instead, the firm purportedly let him quietly resign and did not notify the authorities.

Recover Horizon Private Equity III Losses with a Securities Attorney

While joining a class action securities lawsuit might seem like a practical and cost-effective way to get back your money, in truth, your best chance of maximizing your financial recovery is to work with skilled FINRA attorneys who can file an individual arbitration claim on your behalf while advocating for your best interests.  

Often, with class action litigation, plaintiffs who aren’t representatives of the affected class don’t have a lot of say in the proceedings. Any compensation won would be shared among many plaintiffs. Also, if the lawsuit is not successful, individual class members will have given up their right to bring their own claim and may end up recovering nothing.

Why Work With Our FINRA Attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas 

Our expert securities lawyers and investment fraud attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (investorlawyers.com) have more than a century’s worth of experience combined in securities litigation and securities law that has allowed us to go after the biggest brokerage firms on Wall Street, including Oppenheimer. We have recovered many millions of dollars for investors. To schedule your free, no-obligation case consultation, call (800) 259-9010 today.

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