Fight Investment Fraud
Greco & Greco's lawyers represent investors to recover losses caused by securities fraud, churning, lack of suitability, negligence, sales of unregistered securities, unauthorized trading, and other misconduct by stock brokers, investment advisors, financial planners and their firms.
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Ferris Baker Watts
Auction Rate Securities Failures
Auction Rate Securities and Auction Rate Preferred Securities (ARS) are securities made up of long term bonds or preferred stock with variable interest rates and yields. The yields are periodically reset through Dutch auctions. ARS are often marketed and sold by a single dealer with the only resale market being through a successful auction. Problems have arisen in recent months as a result of the failures of the auctions, leaving investors in the lurch and unable to redeem the security. As set out in this SmartMoney article, ARS have been marketed as a safe, liquid alternative to money market funds. Investors believing they had their money in a safe liquid investment are understandably concerned by the failures in the marketplace for these securities, and our firm has been monitoring the situation closely and discussing the matter with concerned individuals and businesses. Misrepresentations and omissions in the sale of a security can form the basis for a claim for securities fraud as well as other legal claims for recovery of damages.
As recently as 2006, the SEC censured 15 of the largest brokerage firms for sales and auctions of Auction Rate Securities. As stated by the SEC in its press release, “since the firms were under no obligation to guarantee against a failed auction, investors may not have been aware of the liquidity and credit risks associated with certain securities.” The SEC further stated that “the firms violated Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, which prohibits material misstatements and omissions in any offer or sale of securities.” The fifteen firms which were censured were Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc., Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc., Lehman Brothers Inc., Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated/ Morgan Stanley DW Inc., RBC Dain Rauscher Inc., A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc., Piper Jaffray & Co., SunTrust Capital Markets Inc., Wachovia Capital Markets, LLC, and Banc of America Securities LLC. Read the SEC Order here.
UBS appears to be the first firm to actually begin lowering the values of auction rate securities on its customers’ statements, as reported by many news sources on March 29 including this Reuters article. Citing a Wall Street Journal article, Reuters reported that the markdowns could exceed 20 percent for some customers. Additional concessions from other firms may be forthcoming as the first quarter of 2008 ends.
State Regulators, including Massachusetts, have also begun investigations of the auction rate securities market with Massachusetts reportedly issuing subpoenas to UBS, Merrill Lynch, and Bank of America.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released an Investor Alert on March 31, 2008 regarding auction rate securities which purports to set out various options for investors stuck with these products. FINRA, which claims to be a “trusted advocate for investors,” notably fails to mention contacting an attorney or filing an arbitration claim as options. If you are an investor who was sold Auction Rate Securities, and you would like to discuss your legal options with an attorney, please Contact Greco & Greco.
Posted by W. Scott Greco on 03/03/08.
Auction Rate Securities (ARS) • Bonds • Brokerage Firms • A.G. Edwards • Banc of America • Bear Stearns • Citigroup • Deutsche Bank • Ferris Baker Watts • Lehman Brothers • Merrill Lynch • Morgan Keegan • Morgan Stanley • Piper Jaffray • RBC Dain Rauscher • Suntrust • UBS • Wachovia • FINRA • State Regulators • Massachusetts • Suitability • Permalink
Securities Fraud Guilty Plea for IPOF Fund Manager
A fund manager who had utilized Ferris Baker Watts accounts for his IPOF fund plead guilty in Cleveland, Ohio to securities fraud related to stock price manipulation. According to this Baltimore Sun article, David A. Dadante lost $28 million dollars of investors? monies in a scheme that started as a ponzi scheme and led to at least four different illegal trading techniques to artificially increase the price of a specific stock, Innotrac.
The Baltimore Sun has extensively covered the involvement of Ferris Baker Watts in this matter in these linked articles, which discuss the early retirement of several executives since the investigation began, a 2003 company memo regarding concerns, and internal flags of potential problems in Dadante?s accounts.
Stephen J. Glantz, a former Ferris broker, has recently been charged with related securities fraud by federal prosecutors in Cleveland. According to this Baltimore Sun article, the Ferris broker is charged with engaging in unauthorized trading in his clients’ account to aid Dadante’s scheme.
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