Articles Tagged with SIPC

Last week, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton unveiled a plan to give futures intermediaries’ clients Securities Investor Protection Corporation-like protections via the creation of a Futures Investor and Customer Protection Fund. Similar to the SIPC Fund, this fund would be called the Futures Investor and Customer Protection Fund, and it would be funded by fees assessed to futures commission merchants.

The idea of setting up an insurance type fund for futures clients arose following the Commission’s recent allegations against Peregrine Financial Group Inc.-the SEC is accusing the futures commission merchants of misappropriating about $215 million in customer funds of about $220 million that was on deposit-and after MF Global Inc.’s bankruptcy filing last year revealed that several hundred million dollars in client funds had been misallocated and could not be withdrawn.

Unlike the securities industry, the futures industry has never provided financial protection coverage to customers who lose money because of illegal actions or bankruptcy. Instead, the protection has come from mandating that client funds and the intermediaries should always be kept separate, which was a structure that seemed to work until the incidents involving Peregrine Financial and MF Global occurred.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation are at odds over what the standard of proof should be used for the SEC’s application to make SIPC start liquidation proceedings for Stanford Group Co. The SEC recently sued the non-profit corporation, which is supposed to provide coverage protection for investors in the event that the brokerage firm they are working with fails. The SIPC has so far refused to provide the defrauded investors of R. Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scam with any compensation, contending that the Stanford bank involved in the scam was Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua and not SIPC member Stanford Group. Stanford has been convicted on 13 criminal counts related to the financial fraud.

During a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hearing, SC chief litigation counsel Matthew Martens said the probable cause standard is sensible in light of the Securities Investor Protection Act’s structure. SIPC lawyer Eugene Frank Assaf Jr., however, contended that the preponderance of the evidence standard is the one that should be used. Assaf said this should be the standard because this is SIPC’s only chance to seriously challenge the “compulsion issue.”

The SEC and SIPC have been battling it out since June 2011 when the Commission asked the latter to start liquidation proceedings on the grounds that individuals who had invested in the Ponzi scam through SGC deserved protection under SIPA. SIPC, however, did not act on this request. So the SEC went to court to get an order compelling the nonprofit organization to begin liquidating. The Commission was granted a partial win last month when the court found that a summary proceeding would be enough to resolve the SEC’s application.

Some 21,000 clients who purchased CD’s through SGC would be able to file claims for reimbursement through SIPA if the SEC prevails in this case.

Earlier this month, SIPC CEO and President Stephen Harbeck stood by the entity’s decision to not provide loss coverage to the victims of R. Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scam. When giving testimony to the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee, Harbeck noted that Stanford’s investors made the choice to send their assets to an offshore bank that wasn’t protected by the US government.

He pointed to the SEC’s own statements regarding how the CDs these investors purchased paid return rates that were “excessive” and likely “impossible.” He said that SIPA has never been interpreted to “pay back the purchase price of a bad investment. ”

SEC Suit Pursues Payouts by SIPC, The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2011

Securities Investor Protection Corporation

More Blog Posts:

SEC and SIPC Go to Court Over Whether SIPA Protects Stanford Ponzi Fraud Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 6, 2012

SEC Sues SIPC Over R. Allen Stanford Ponzi Payouts, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2011

SEC Gets Initial Victory in Lawsuit Against SIPC Over Payments Owed to Stanford Ponzi Scam Investors
, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, February 10, 2012 Continue Reading ›

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins says that the Securities and Exchange Commission doesn’t need to go through a full civil trial in order to make the Securities Investor Protection Corp. start liquidation proceedings to compensate the victims of Allen Stanford’s $7B Ponzi scam for their losses. This ruling is a partial victory for the SEC, which has been trying to get the brokerage industry-funded nonprofit to help the investors recoup their losses. The dispute between the two groups has centered around the interpretation of the SIPC’s mission and whether or not it supports the SEC’s efforts to protect investors.

SIPC had been pushing for a trial. However, Wilkins said that a trial doesn’t comport with the agency’s purpose, which is to give immediate, summary proceedings upon the failure of a securities firm. Wilkins is mandating a “summary proceeding” that would be fully briefed by the end of this month. However, in regards to the SEC claim that it should be able to determine when the SIPC has failed to fulfill its duties, Wilkins said that this was for the court to decide.

SIPC has a reserve fund that is there to compensate investors that have suffered losses because a brokerage firm has failed. Under SIPC protections, customers of a broker that has failed can receive up to $500,000 in compensation ($250,000 in cash). Although not intended as insurance against fraud, SPIC covers the financial firm’s clients but not those that worked with an affiliate, such as an offshore bank. For example, Stanford International Bank is an Antiguan bank, which means that it should fall outside SIPC-provided protections. However, Stanford Group Company, which promoted the CDs to the investors, is a member of SIPC. (Also, SEC has maintained that Stanford stole from the brokerage firms’ clients by selling the CDs, which had no value, and that this was not unlike the Bernard L. Madoff Ponzi scam that credited $64B in fake securities to client accounts.)

Meantime, Stanford has been charged by both federal prosecutors and the Commission with bilking investors when he and his team persuaded them to buy $7B in bogus CDs from Stanford International Bank. He then allegedly took billions of those dollars and invested the cash in his businesses and to support his lavish lifestyle. Stanford’s criminal trial is currently underway.

Wilkins noted that even if the SEC’s lawsuit against SIPC succeeds, this wouldn’t mean that Stanford’s victims would get their money right away. It would still be up to a Texas court to decide on claims filed by former Stanford clients.

Judge Hands SEC Initial Victory In Suit Against Insurance Fund, The Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2012

Securities Investor Protection Corporation
Compensating Stanford’s Investors, NY Times, June 20, 2011

More Blog Posts:

SEC and SIPC Go to Court to Over Whether SIPA Protects Stanford Ponzi Fraud Investors, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, February 6, 2012

SEC Sues SIPC Over R. Allen Stanford Ponzi Payouts, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 20, 2011

SEC Chairman Criticized For Allowing Ex-Commission Official that Benefited from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scam to Help Craft Policy Regarding Victims’ Compensation, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, September 23, 2011

Continue Reading ›

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