The Resolution Law Group: CommonWealth REIT Shareholders Gets New Vote on Whether to Oust Its Board

In the dispute between investors and CommonWealth REIT (CWH) over whether to oust its board, an arbitration panel said that attempts by shareholder to remove trustees were not valid but that a new vote could go forward. Related Cos. and Corvex Management LP, both CommonWealth shareholders, have been trying to get the board of trustees removed because they believe there was mismanagement and conflicts of interest.

They blamed this in part on CommonWealth President Adam Portnoy and his dad (and company founder) Barry owning external management firm REIT Management and Research LLC. The two of them are also on REIT’s board.

Corvex and Related claim that they were able to get support from holders that owned over 70% of the shares to get the trustees taken out. However, CommonWealth not only denies the conflict of interest claims but also contends that per its bylaws the vote was not valid.

Issuing its ruling, the arbitration panel said that Commonwealth’s bylaws set up procedural hurdles that create a “wall” against any consent solicitation. And while there is a rule that says shareholders need to own a minimum of 3% of the stock for at least three years before they can try to remove the trustees, arbitrators said that the rule wasn’t valid and also, the consent solicitation to remove the trustees was not executed properly and could not be validated. That said, the panel decided that Related and Corvex are allowed to begin a new effort under panel-established guidelines.

The Resolution Law Group works with institutional investors and individual investors to get back their securities fraud losses.

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The Resolution Law Group: Mortgage REITs See a Slump

Real estate investment trusts that purchase mortgage debt has taken a dive after an employment report that was better than forecasted spurred speculation that the Federal Reserve will begin to make its asset purchases smaller in size. According to data, the United States added 195,000 jobs in June, even though a median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey predicted only 165,000 new jobs. Meantime, mortgage securities backed by the government experienced their largest quarterly losses in 19 years during the three months leading up to the end of June. Certain mortgage REITs even had to use money that was borrowed to amplify possible returns.

Financial firms that purchase mortgage bonds and loans have been contending with speculation that the Fed will lower its $85 billion of monthly debt purchasing as the economy begins to look like it is improving. Unfortunately, a lot of mortgage REITs did not see the recent sharp rise in interest rates. These higher rates decrease the likelihood that homeowners will refinance their mortgage rates. To reflect the upped risk of holding high duration bonds in the long-term, the securities have dropped in value. That many of the REITs did not foresee the interest rates job could be an indictor that they were unprepared and have been complacent.

Mortgage REIT Fraud
Mortgage real estate investment trusts purchase mortgage-backed securities or mortgage that exist or lend money to the owners of real estate for their mortgages. These REITs are involved in investing and owning property mortgages while revenues primarily come via interests made on mortgage loans.

If you feel you are the victim of Mortgage Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

The Resolution Law Group: UBS, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Other Brokerage Firms Subpoenaed by Massachusetts Securities Regulator in Probe of Complex Investments Sold to Seniors

William Galvin, the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, is subpoenaing 15 brokerage firms in its probe into complex products that were sold to older investors. Morgan Stanley (MS), LPL Financial (LPLA), Merrill Lynch (MER), UBS AG (UBS), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Fidelity Investments, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW), & TD Ameritrade (AMTD) are among the broker-dealers that received notices from the state. The subpoenas are seeking information about investments that were sold to Massachusetts seniors, as well as data about the firms’ compliance, supervision, and training.

Galvin noted that when such investments are sold to inexperienced investors, this creates potential “accidents waiting to happen.” He is among a number of regulators that have expressed worry about how many complex products are being marketed to unsophisticated investors that want higher returns during this era of low interest rates. These financial instruments tend to be among brokers’ favorites because they garner higher commissions.

Already, Galvin has brought in over $11 million in fines from brokerage firms that sold illiquid real estate investment trusts to investors in Massachusetts. This type of REIT is hard to sell when a customer wants out. Galvin said that it was during that probe his staff discovered there were a lot of brokers, who were not only inadequately supervised, but also they were selling complex financial instruments that went beyond even their comprehension. The Massachusetts’s regulator office will continue to look into REITs, in addition into oil and gas partnerships, structured products, and private placement deals.

There was a time when such investments were only for sophisticated investors with an at least $1 million net worth. Now, in the wake of the financial crisis, complex financial instruments have been available to more people, including a lot of older Americans who want to offset losses that their retirement portfolios sustained when the economy tanked.

Senior Investors
It is important for seniors to note that not all investments are suitable for them and their needs. Unfortunately, older investors make easy targets for investment fraud, in part because they tend to have large nest eggs for retirement, and, also, because some of them may have lost the ability to discern when they are being taken advantage of.

Sometimes senior investors are the target of an actual securities scam. On other occasions, they were unfortunate enough to work with a financial adviser that, out of ignorance or hoping to make a bigger commission, persuaded them to get involved in financial products that came with risks that were greater than what their funds could handle/or and incompatible with their investment goals.

At The Resolution Law Group, we help older investors of elder fraud recoup their losses.  If you feel you are the victim of Elder Fraud, please do not hesitate to email or call the The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

The Resolution Law Group: Financial Firms in the Headlines: UBS Charges Financial Planning Fees, MF Global Customers Seek to Cap Ex-Leaders’ Legal Defense Expenses, Ex-Thompson REIT CFO is Suspended

UBS Wealth Management Customers Now Paying a Fee for Financial Plans
UBS (UBS) Wealth Management Americas is now charging a fee for the financial plans that advisers are customizing for the firm’s clients. According to the head of the wealth management advisor group head Jason Chandler, this new policy wasn’t implemented to up firm revenues, although it has. Rather, it was set up to increase the level of commitment clients have to their plan, which he say is what happens when they have to pay money for one.

To date this year, the company has made $3 million in financial plan fees, up from $1.4 million from last year. The average fee amount is $4,100. Advisers who design the financial plans are getting 50% of the fee that they charge, while 15% of the fees earned from the plans end up in expense accounts for them.

MF Global Customers Seek to Cap Legal Defense Bills of Brokerage Firm’s Former Executives
MF Global Inc. customers want to limit how much the former top executives of the failed brokerage firm pay for their legal defense. In a court filing, attorneys for the customers expressed concern at how quickly the legal costs of Chief Executive Jon Corzine and other former executives are growing.

The MF Global clients are suing about two dozen former managers for their alleged misconduct that they believe caused the broker-dealer’s collapse. Of the $200 million in insurance coverage that the firm has to cover legal judgments, $30 million has gone toward the ex-executives defense and they are asking for another $10 million. The brokerage customers want a $40 million cap placed on the defense costs. They are worried that the more the ex-MF Global executives spend toward defense the less money there will be to go toward their own $300 million shortfall they are facing and they won’t be made whole for the financial losses they sustained.

Ex-Thompson REIT CFO Gets Five-Month Securities Industry Suspension
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is suspending Wendy J. Worcester from the securities industry for five months. Worcester was previously chief financial officer of real estate investor Tony Thompson‘s nontraded real estate investment trust, as well as co-chief compliance officer of TNP Securities LLC, which is the brokerage firm controlled by Thompson. The SRO says that Worcester did not perform independent and sufficient due diligence into Thompson’s real estate dealings, including three Thompson National Properties LLC-sponsored private placement offerings. This caused her to allegedly compromise TNP Securities’ independence.

According to FINRA, When Thompson National Properties was in financial trouble in 2009, suffering nearly $25.8 million in losses and a negative net equity of $13.6 million while launching REIT The TNP Strategic Retail Trust Inc., two Thompson private placement note programs would go on to pay old investors with either new investor funds or money from some other part of the business. Worcester is settling the REIT securities case without denying or admitting to the allegations.

Please do not hesitate to email or call the Securities Fraud at The Resolution Law Group (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

The Resolution Law Group: Home sales and prices continued to climb in May, raising the prospect of a new housing bubble unless there is a significant increase in home building.

“The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. He said there needs to be a 50% increase in home building.

The median home price jumped 8% from the previous month to $208,000, according to NAR. While month-to-month price swings are not unusual, the year-over-year rise is now 15%, and prices are at levels last seen in the summer of 2008, just before the bursting of the housing bubble.

May marked the 15th straight month of annual price increases, the first time that happened since May 2006.

Home prices have been driven higher partly by a drop in foreclosures. Only 18% of home sales in the month were so-called distressed sales, which typically sell at a discount to market prices. A year ago 25% of sales were distressed sales.

Overall sales rose 4% from April and 13% from a year earlier to an annual rate of 5.18 million homes in the month.

There are differences between this run-up in prices and the housing bubble that preceded the financial crisis, said Gary Thomas, the Realtors’ president.

“The boom period was marked by easy credit and overbuilding, but today we have tight mortgage credit and widespread shortages of homes for sale,” he said. The improved housing market and mortgage rates still near record lows, despite a recent rise in rates, is pulling buyers back in the market faster than it’s prompting sellers to put homes on the market. Buyer traffic 29% above a year ago, but the supply of homes for sale is actually down 10%.

That’s caused homes to sell much more quickly — only 41 days on the market on average in May, about a month faster than a year ago, with nearly half the homes being sold in less than a month.

The warnings about prices rising too fast were a stark change from the Realtors’ position during the heyday of the housing bubble, when the statement from officials generally cheered the steady rise in prices.

If you suspect that you are the victim of Mortgage Fraud, do not hesitate to email or call please contact The Resolution Law Group at (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

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Berthel Fisher, VSR Financial Services, & Cetera Financial Modify the Way They Sell Nontraded REITs and Other Alternative Instruments

Investment News is reporting that in the wake of pressure from regulators, Berthel Fisher & Co. Financial Services Inc., Cetera Financial Group Inc. and VSR Financial Services Inc., are modifying the way they sell specific alternative investments, including nontraded real estate investment trusts, by revising current policy or including no procedures and guidelines. According to executives at the three brokerage firms, they want add liquid alternative choices to their platforms while staying mindful of the issues that regulators recently addressed.

These types of financial instruments are in demand due to their higher yields, especially as traditional investment interest rates for retirees stay low due to the Federal Reserve’s policy. According to VSR chairman Don Beary, Following recent FINRA’s ‘senior sweep,’ his brokerage firm is now more careful about what senior citizens can invest in. VRS’s registered representatives have just been notified about the new illiquid alternative investment sale guidelines, which include a 35% of illiquid investment limit for older clients’ accounts—down from 40-50% previously. Also, for clients in the 70 to 75 age group, they will be allowed to possess no more than 25% of illiquid investments in their portfolio. Clients in the 75 to 84 age group have a 15% limit, while customers older than that will not be allowed to make own any illiquid investments.

Meantime, Centera hasn’t modified customer allocations percentages , but it has enhanced its representative training requirements for representatives that sell illiquid investments and brought in more employees to conduct product due diligence.

It is important that your financial representative only recommend investments that are suitable for you, your goals, and your financial needs. Failure to do so can be grounds for a securities fraud case if the customer loses money as a result.

Seniors are especially vulnerable to losing big from unsuitable trades. Many have ended up losing the savings they have spent a lifetime accumulating, which can drastically hurt their retirement that they have worked hard for.

You want to work with an experienced REIT lawyer who knows how to recoup your losses for you.  Contact The Resolution Law Group at (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud

Ameriprise Financial, Securities America, & Three Other Brokerage Firms Reach $9.6M Non-Traded REIT Securities Settlement with Massachusetts Financial Regulator

Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin announced today that the state has reached a $9.6M securities settlement with five independent brokerage dealers—Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. (AMP), Commonwealth Financial Network, Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., Royal Alliance Associates Inc., & Securities America Inc.—over the allegedly inappropriate sale of nontraded real estate investment trusts to investors. $8.6M of this is restitution to them.

Galvin says that the investigation, which was triggered by complaints from customers, led to the discovery of a “pattern of impropriety” in the sale of these securities by independent broker-dealers where supervision has been hard to “maintain.” As part of the nontraded REIT settlement, Ameriprise will pay $2.6 in restitution and a $400K fine, Securities America will pay $778K in restitution and a $150K fine, Royal Alliance will pay $59K in restitution and a $25K fine, Commonwealth Financial Network will pay a $2.1M restitution and a $300K fine, and Lincoln Financial will pay a $504K restitution and a $100K fine.

The non-traded REIT agreement with these independent brokerage firms comes just three months after Galvin settled a similar securities fraud case with LPL Financial Holdings Inc. accusing that financial firm of inadequately supervising their brokers tasked with selling the financial instruments. LPL Financial agreed to pay $2.5M in restitution and a $500K administrative fee over seven nontraded REITs that were sold.

The state of Massachusetts contends that some sales allegedly violated state regulations that don’t allow over 10% of an investor’s worth to be held in specific securities, while others purportedly violated the requirements for liquid net worth of investors that are established in prospectuses. Firm employees and brokers tasked with looking over the transactions were not only allegedly inadequately supervised, but also they lacked the necessary education about nontraded REIT transactions. This week, a spokesperson for Secretary Galvin announced that the financial firm has agreed to pay another $2.6 million in restitution.

If you, your family, friends, neighbors or associates have been subjected to Securities Fraud, please contact The Resolution Law Group at (203) 542-7275 for a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Lender Litigation, Unlawful Foreclosure, Tarp Money, Mortgage Backed Securities, Derivitives Lawsuits, Insider Trading Lawsuit, SEC Settlements, Ponzi Scheme Lawsuits, Intentional Misrepresentation, Securitized Mortgage, Class Action Securities Lawsuit, Robo-Signing Lawsuit, Lost Equity Litigation, Mortgage Lender Fraud, FINRA Fraud Lawsuit, Suing Banks, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Short Sale Fraud, Fraudulent Business Practices, Mortgage Litigation, Complex Tort Litigation, Injunctive Relief, MERS Fraud