FINRA Arbitration Panel Orders Citigroup to Pay Senior Investor Couple $3.1M for Alleged Broker Fraud

Citigroup Inc. (C) now has to pay Dr. Nasirdin Madhany and Zeenat Madhany $3.1 million over claims that the financial firm failed to properly supervise a broker, which caused the couple to sustain over $1 million losses. The broker is accused of directing them to invest in real estate developments that later went sour.

In 2010, the couple filed a FINRA arbitration case alleging fraud, negligence, and other wrongdoings related to over $1 million in real estate investments they made between ’04-and ’07. The Madhanys, who are senior investors, were customers of then-Citigroup worker Scott Andrew King, who referred them to politician Lawton “Bud” Chiles III. The latter was looking for investors for a number of real estate projects. King, who allegedly had a conflict of interest (that he did not disclose) from buying two condominiums from Chiles at a discount, is said to have connected the couple and the politician without Citigroup’s knowledge.

The Madhanys invested in two real estate projects, which began to have problems in 2007 when the US housing market failed and that is when the couple lost their money. Also, they, along with other investors, had signed personal loan guarantee related to a $12 million loan on one of the projects. When the loan defaulted in 2009, Wachovia sued all of them. Last year, a court submitted a $10 million judgment against the investors, with each person possibly liable for the whole amount.

The FINRA arbitration panel’s ruling this week includes over $1 million for the couple’s real estate investment losses and $2.1 million for the couple’s portion of the $10 million judgment. Should the Madhanys have to pay the entire $10 million amount, Citigroup will have to pay them back.

Selling Away
The securities industry prohibits selling away, which is a practice involving advisors promoting investments privately without their firm’s knowledge. Brokerage firms can be held liable when a broker engages in “selling away.”

The Resolution Law Group securities lawyers represent investors that have lost their investments because of selling away, elder financial fraud, and other types of securities fraud. Contact The Resolution Law Group today and ask to speak with one of our FINRA arbitration lawyers.

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The Resolution Law Group: Many Financial Fraud Victims Don’t See It Coming, Says Survey

According to people who took a survey a report called the Financial Fraud and Fraud Susceptibility in the United States, while most people have been targeted by financial scammers, nearly half of them don’t see it coming. Almost 24,000 adults in the 40 and over age group participated.

Among the survey results:

• Over 80% of respondents had been approached about taking part in what was potentially financial scam.

• 40% were unable to recognize the typical red flag signs of possible fraud.

• Over 40% found the idea of a 100% yearly investment return very attractive.

• 43% liked the idea of investments that were “fully guaranteed.”

• 11% of respondents admitted to losing money when investing in specifics scams, such as e-mail schemes or sales pitches during free lunches, but only 4% admitted to being victimized by financial fraud when they were directly asked about it.

• Just 45% of those that admitted to being a fraud victim told anyone else about it.

• The most common reasons cited for not reporting what happened were a) not knowing who to tell and b) not thinking that telling anyone would help.

• Educated, younger males with high incomes were the ones most likely to risk big in order to possibly achieve high returns.

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

 

Investor in Goldman Sachs Special Opportunities Fund 2006 to Get $2.5M FINRA Arbitration Award For Allegedly Unsuitable Investment

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Panel is ordering Goldman Sachs & Co. (GS) to pay about $2.5M to Tracy Landow for recommending that she invest in the Goldman Sachs Special Opportunities Fund 2006, which she is now contending was an investment that was not appropriate for her. Landow filed her arbitration claim against the unit and her broker a couple of years ago, claiming that unauthorized trades were made. She also alleged misrepresentation and failure to supervise.

The FINRA arbitration panel determined that Goldman liable, ordering the financial firm to compensate the claimant with $1.6M in damages plus about $1M in interest and additional fees. Broker John D. Blondel, Jr., however, was not found responsible. The panel determined that he did not play a part in the alleged investment sales-related violation, theft, forgery, misappropriation, or fund conversion and he was not accountable for the private equity fund and the transactions that resulted. It is recommending that his name be expunged from the case.

Meantime, Landow’s interest in the fund will go back to the financial firm within 30 days from the award date.

FINRA Arbitration
If you believe that your investment losses were a result of broker negligence, you may have grounds for filing a claim with FINRA. It is important that the investment your financial firm recommended to you was suitable for your needs and goals and did not place you at risk of suffering huge losses that your account could not handle.

At The Resolution Law Group P.C., it is our business to recover securities losses on behalf of our clients. Contact us today at www.TheResolutionLawGroup.com.

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

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

FINRA Notifies Brokerage Firms About Non-traded REIT Information that Can Mislead Investors

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is alerting broker-dealers that the way they market certain non-traded real estate investment trusts could be misleading investors. The regulator said its recent reviews of brokerage firm communications with the public about these investments showed “deficiencies.” The SRO has been trying to improve the sales practices related to illiquid REITs and increase their transparency.

Among the identified information shortcomings:
• Inaccurate and misleading statements about the benefits of investing
• Failure to adequately explain the risks involved
• Describing a real estate security as a “yield,” which can incorrectly suggest that it is a bond

FINRA said it is necessary for brokerage firms to provide “fair and balanced” distribution rates, while explaining that distribution payments are not a given. The regulator observed that some broker-dealers are prone to highlight these payments, which are given to investors as soon as the nontraded REITs are sold, but fails to inform that some distributions are the return of their principal or borrowed money. FINRA reminded broker-dealers that they have to wait until an REIT has paid distributions for six months before it can make claims about the instrument’s yearly return rate.

The SRO noted that data about related or affiliated REITs should be as prominently visible as other information, and past performance information about REITs involving the current investment being promoted cannot be cherry picked.

REITs and Non-traded REITs
REITs invest in commercial real estate, which gives investors a chance to benefit from the increase in property values, and they are publicly traded. Non-traded REITs, which don’t trade on securities exchange, can be tough to sell in secondary markets or illiquid. Investors usually have to pay higher fees for them.

FINRA has been targeting the improper-sale of non-traded REITs for some time now. This latest notification to brokerage firms doesn’t mention how many broker-dealers it looked at (or which ones) to reach its conclusions.

The Resolution Law Group represent investors throughout the US. For over two decades, The Resolution Law Group has helped thousands of investors recoup their investment losses by going through arbitration via FINRA, NYSE, NASD, and AAA, as well as through the state and federal courts.  Visit our website http:www.theresolutionlawgroup.com

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

FINRA Plan May Dramatically Change The Way Brokerage Firms Report On Nontraded REITS & Other Illiquid Investments on Client Statements

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s board of governors has a plan that could radically modify the way brokerage firms report illiquid investments’ value on the account statements of clients. The SRO, which wants to give investors more transparency in regards to the actual value of such investments, has been trying to modify its rules about REITs and private placement valuations on client statements for well over a year.

Earlier this month, in changes it is proposing to Rule 2340, the FINRA board presented two reporting alternatives for brokerage firms. With the first option, a brokerage firm wouldn’t need to have the per-share estimated value of an REIT or a private placement that is unlisted included in customers’ account statements. The second choice lets a brokerage firm chose from three options:

• A valuation done by an external service at least one time every three years.
• A valuation performed by a service that performs valuations according the methodology revealed in the prospectus.
• For a couple of years after the initial investment, a “net investment” valuation that is comprised of the offering price without cash that is distributed to investors and “organization and offering expenses” paid for via the offering or borrowing of proceeds.

The majority of nontraded real estate investment trusts sell at $10/share and they generally stay at that value on a client’s account statement until a year and a half has passed since the REIT ceased to raise funds. This means that years may go by without a client being able to see that the nontraded REIT has a value that differs from that $10/share price.

However, when the recent credit crisis hit, some of the biggest nontraded REITs experienced steep drops in valuation each quarter, and advisers and investors found it difficult to figure out how, why, and to what extent the valuation declines occurred. The matter of the way a nontraded REIT should be valued (and a brokerage firm’s duty to make sure that valuation is stated on client account statements) has become a highly charged issued.

Also, to the dismay of FINRA, its examiners, who have studied quite a number of retail sellers of nontraded REITs in the last couple of years, have found that firms selling these instruments didn’t perform much reasonable diligence before selling them or failed to determine whether the product was appropriate for investors. In comments made to a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association forum last year, FINRA executive vice present of member regulation sales practices Susan Axelrod said that when REITs have gotten into financial trouble, there were usually red flags that brokerage firms could have assessed first before making more sales.

Our REIT lawyers represent investment fraud victims. Contact The Resolution Law Group today 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

Annuity Assets are Hot Commodities Among Investment Managers Private-Equity Groups, and Hedge Fund-Controlled Entities

Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2012

According to the Wall Street Journal, Guggenheim Partners, Harbinger Capital Partners, and Apollo Global Management are just some of the money managers who have begun to acquire fixed annuities. These investments, which were sold by life insurance companies to conservative savers for decades, are now being seen by these newest buyers as a way to increase money under management. Many of these entities, which are controlled by private-equity groups, hedge funds, and other investment managers, believe that their investment savvy will allow them to discover profits where traditional insurance companies were unable to do so. Such acquisitions could provide a more stable income source.

For example, following its acquisition of a couple of midsize insurers this summer by its affiliates, Guggenheim, the $160 billion money manager. won credit-ratings upgrades. Meantime, Athene Annuity & Life, which said it would pay $415 million for Presidential Life Corp., will add about $3.5 billion in assets if Presidential shareholders approve the deal. As for Apollo Global Management, it is seeking to establish a retirement-savings company that is a market leader.

Some of these new annuity owners are offering products that come with terms that are now more generous for clients, while others want to make money off the business blocks they’ve acquired. The National Organization of Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Associations says that to get US consumers to buy annuities, firms have to set up state-based insurance units that are governed by the same risk-based-capital rules that other insurers have to follow.

A number of life insurers are still up for auction.

Most of those annuities were not good financial investments at the time because, despite what the investor was being told, the actual ‘internal rate of return’ to the investor was only 3.5% to 5.5%. Meanwhile, that investor could have earned a much higher return on other safe investments. Yet, as interest rates have plummeted, those same annuities have become good investments, while the insurance companies are losing money. Enter the money sharks! They first earn fees for creating insurance companies to take over those annuity contracts from the insurance companies.  Then these sharks can gamble with the annuity reserves to make higher returns than these pay out. But it is ‘heads’ they win, ‘tails’ the annuity owners lose and end up with nothing. Note that these money sharks are also using the rating agencies to boost the allusion that the new insurance companies being created are safe. Sound familiar? Remember all those AAA rated mortgage derivatives that were really worthless?

If you, your family, friends, neighbors or associates have been subjected to elder Annuity abuse, please contact our securities law firm 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