Articles Tagged with REIT

shutterstock_182053859-300x200Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Michael Spears (Spears) currently associated with IMS Securities, Inc. alleging negligence, failure to supervise, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty among other claims. According to BrokerCheck records Spears has been subject to two customer complaints involving direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

The most recent claim was filed in August 2016 and alleges that, while Spears was employed at IMS Securities, acted negligently, misrepresented material facts, failed to supervise, and breached his fiduciary duty in connection to non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) causing damages of $1,667,000. The claim is currently pending.

In July 2016, a customer filed a complaint alleging that Spears breached his fiduciary duty, over-concentrated investments, and failed to supervise in correlation to real estate products and variable annuity investments causing $3,000,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_52426963The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Mark Trewitt (Trewitt).  According to BrokerCheck records Trewitt has been subject to at least four customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Trewitt allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_12144202The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Steven Orr (Orr).  According to BrokerCheck records Orr has been subject to at least five customer complaints and two criminal matters.  The customer complaints against Orr allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including oil and gas partnerships, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_179203760The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Andrew Topka (Topka).  According to BrokerCheck records Foote has been subject to at least two customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Topka allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil and gas private placements, and other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_120556300The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Mitchell Foote (Foote).  According to BrokerCheck records Foote has been subject to at least four customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Foote alleges securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), variable annuities, and other potentially other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_175298066The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are pleased to announce an award on behalf of their client against Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus) in the amount of $150,000 plus costs.  The complaint was filed The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and involved multiple brokerage firms that hired advisor Ahmad Hashemian.

The Claimant alleged that Hashemian invested over $2,000,000 in exclusively high cost products and 50% of those investments were in alternative investments such as private placements, oil and gas partnerships, and non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).  The other 50% was invested in variable and equity-indexed annuities.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers, enticed by the high commissions, often times misled their clients into investing in these products.

In this case the panel found that “the investments Hashemian recommended while at Centaurus were not suitable and in Margaret Polito’s best interests. Margaret Polito also provided sufficient evidence to meet her burden of proof to support her allegations in her Statement of Claim that the actions by Hashemian, for which Centaurus is responsible, constitute fraudulent and negligently made material misrepresentations and omitted material information in the sale of the investments to Margaret Polito.”  Award Can Be Found Here.

Even more shocking is the fact that some of these activities occurred while Hashemian was under heightened supervision.  Nonetheless, Centaurus failed to supervise Hashemian’s misconduct that included having his client sign blank forms and inflating her financial information so that she could qualify for the investments he was recommending.

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shutterstock_27786601The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Bruce Slater (Slater).  According to BrokerCheck records Slater has been subject to at least four customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Slater alleges securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including oil and gas partnerships – including Ridgewood Energy-, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), variable annuities, and other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_189276023The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the employment separation filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Patrick Sands (Sands). According to BrokerCheck records Sands has been the subject of at least one customer complaint and one employment termination for cause.

In November 2015, Sands’ then brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch) terminated Sands for cause alleging that the broker engaged in conduct inconsistent with the firm’s selling away policies. Participated in private securities transactions without approval of the firm is a practice known as “selling away” in the industry. The allegations appear to involve investments in private placements or direct participation programs such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), oil and gas programs, or equipment leasing.

In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

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shutterstock_89758564The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating investors that were recommended to invest in non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs) and non-traded Business Development Companies (BDCs). Based upon the investor’s investment objectives and other information such investments may have been unsuitable for the investor. Recently, one publicly traded BDC has been under scrutiny, Prospect Capital Corporation (Prospect Capital) (Stock Symbol: PSEC). As the New York Times reported, in the last year and a half Prospect Capital’s stock price and net-asset value per share have been steadily sinking. Prospect Capital’s stock now has traded at discounts to net-asset-value of more than 30 percent this year.

As a background, BDCs have been a growing asset class that markets itself to investors as a non-stock market, non-real estate, high yield alternative investment. As we have reported in the past, BDCs make loans to and invest in small to mid-size, developing, or financially troubled companies either broadly or in a particular sector, such as oil and gas. BDCs have stepped into a role that many commercial banks left during the financial crisis due to capital raising requirements. In sum, BDCs lend to companies that may not otherwise get financing from traditional sources. However, BDCs appear to be just as speculative, suffer from high commissions and fees, and are inappropriate for most investors just like Non-Traded REITs. Indeed, to a Wealth Management Article front-end load fees on Non-Traded BDCs are typically around 11.5 to 12 percent. In addition, BDCs also usually have an incentive compensation following the “two and twenty” rule where the fund charges two percent of assets in management fees and 20% of capital gains based upon performance.

In the case of Prsopect Capital, some analysts have accused Prospect of charging conspicuously high fees even in the face of as investor returns. For example, Prsopect Capital paid its chief executive, John F. Barry III more than $100 million annually in recent years when the CEO of the largest internally managed BDC earned just $16.9 million in 2014. In addition, investors have accused Prsopect Capital because they claimed the firm inflates the fees it pays its management firm, Prospect Capital Management. Further, investors believe that Prsopect Capital trades at a 28 percent discount to net-asset value because of investor belief that the value Prospect Capital’s reported asset value may be inflated.

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shutterstock_174858983The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating investors that were recommended to invest in non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs) or publicly traded shares of United Development Funding (UDF) funds. Based upon the investor’s investment objectives and other information such investments may have been unsuitable for the investor.  Recently, UDF IV, a publicly traded REIT, plummeted about 50% in value after allegations arose claiming that UDF runs its REIT programs like a Ponzi scheme.

As a background, according to UDF’s website the company was founded in 2003 and purports to provide investors with an opportunity to diversify their portfolios with “fundamentally sound investments in affordable residential real estate.”

However, allegations have been made that UDF IV made false or misleading statements and omissions about its business. It has been alleged that UDF IV failed to disclose that: (1) subsequent UDF REIT companies provide significant liquidity and capital to earlier UDF companies which allows those companies to repay earlier investors; (2) if funding from retail investors to the latest UDF company were halted the earlier UDF companies would not be capable of continuing operations; (3) UDF IV provided liquidity to UDF I, UMT and UDF III, as part of an investment scheme; (4) UDF IV was being operated in a manner similar to a Ponzi scheme where new capital is being used to pay prior investors; (5) UDF IV failed to disclose that the company was being investigated by the SEC for its practices; and (6) UDF IV’s business prospect representations were false and misleading.

These allegations came to light on December 10, 2015, after an anonymous author published a report on UDF IV on the Harvest Exchange website. The report alleges that UDF IV has been providing liquidity to UDF I, UMT and UDF III. The report also alleges that many development sites show that there is no real estate development and constitute non-income producing raw land potentially more than 10 years after UDF acquired the property through loans. On December 10, UDF IV issued a press release disclosing that it has, in fact, been cooperating with the SEC in an investigation since April 2014.

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