The Charles Schwab Corp. has agreed to settle for $119 million Securities and Exchange Commission securities fraud charges that it misled investors about the risks involved in its Schwab YieldPlus Fund. By agreeing to settle, Schwab is not denying or admitting wrongdoing.
In 2008, the YieldPlus Fund dropped to $1.8 billion in assets after a peak of $13.5 billion in 2007. The decline happened because, rather than sticking with its stated policy, the fund invested over 25% of assets in private-issuer mortgage-backed securities. According to SEC Division of Enforcement Associate Director Antonia Chion, Schwab promoted the fund as a cash alternative that was supposed to be just slightly riskier than a money market fund even though at one point half the assets were in securities with credit quality and maturity that were very different from the type of investments that money market funds make.
Per the fund’s 1999 registration statement, YieldPlus was to only invest no more than 25% of its assets in one industry. The SEC contends that without obtaining shareholder approval, in 2006 Schwab changed the statement to say that it no longer thought of mortgage-backed securities as an industry. Last year, Schwab agreed to pay $200 million to settle with plaintiffs over the Schwab YieldPlus Fund.
The SEC has also filed a securities fraud complaint against Schwab executives Randall Merk and Kimon Daifotis over the offering, managing, and selling of the Schwab fund. Both men say that they will contest the allegations.
Related Web Resources:
Schwab to Pay $119 Million to Settle SEC Probe Over Misleading Statements, Bloomberg, January 11, 2011
Schwab Settles SEC Charges Over Allegations it Misled YieldPlus Fund Investors for $119M, ThirdAge, January 12, 2011
Class Members of Charles Schwab Corporation Securities Litigation Can Still Opt Out to File Individual Securities Claim, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 6, 2010
Read the SEC Complaint against Merk and Daifotis (PDF)
If you are an investor who has sustained losses from investing in Schwab Yield Plus Funds, contact our stockbroker fraud lawyers today.