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shutterstock_189302954-300x203The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor Felix Chu (Chu) was investigated by a securities regulator for selling promissory notes to clients among other allegations.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Chu left his prior employer, NYLife Securities, LLC (NYLife Securities) prior to several customer complaints concerning the sale of promissory notes.  If you have been a victim of Chu’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In December 2019 FINRA sent Chu requests for information concerning his activities.  Chu failed to respond to the requests and was automatically barred from the brokerage industry.

In October 2019 a customer complained that Chu violated the securities laws by alleging that Radoo engaged in sales practice violations related investments beginning in March 2016 until September 2018, she and her late husband were misled into purchasing promissory notes for $305,000. Plaintiff further alleges that they were misled into remitting a check for $75,000 to purchase what they believed to be additional insurance. The claim is currently, pending and the the investors are seeking compensatory damages in excess of $380,000, lost income, interest, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling securities sales through OBAs.  The sale of unapproved investment products – is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.  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.  Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.

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shutterstock_62862913-259x300The investment attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investors who were inappropriately recommended the Allianz Structured Alpha 1000 and Structured Alpha 1000 Plus Funds.  Investors may have potential legal remedies due to unsuitable recommendations by their broker to invest in these speculative and volatile investment offerings.  Allianz Global Investors told investors that they are liquidating the two hedge funds after they took heavy losses due to COVID related stock volatility on the portfolios stock-options trades.

The Structured Alpha 1000 and Structured Alpha 1000 Plus apparently had been net buyers of puts, or options giving the holder the right to sell an asset at a predetermined price in the future. These put investments were designed to hedge against losses the funds might endure in a market downturn.  However, the strategy did not work and as the market continued declining the funds were forced to lock in losses.

The 1000 in the Structured Alpha Fund names refers to their return targets: 1,000 basis points, or 10 percentage points, above their benchmarks.  However, the Funds advertised themselves as relatively safe and stable investments that were specifically designed to perform well during market downturns.

The Funds’ three-pronged investment objective is to (1) profit during normal market conditions; (2) protect against a market crash, hedging against extreme downside market moves; and (3) navigate as wide a range of equity market outcomes as possible.  In fact the fund advertised that volatile markets would be beneficial to the strategy and that the higher volatility levels would enable increased outperformance potential and better risk control.  The Funds claimed that a protracted bear market is a highly favorable environment for the strategy.

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shutterstock_85873471-300x200The investment attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investors who were inappropriately recommended leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  ETFs, also called exchange-traded notes (ETNs) when backed by a note rather than underlining assets, are speculative and volatile investment offerings.

An ETF is a registered investment trust whose shares represent an interest in a portfolio of securities that track an underlying benchmark or index. Shares of ETFs are typically listed on national securities exchanges and trade throughout the day at prices established by the market.  These non-traditional ETFs differ from other ETFs in that they seek to return a multiple of the performance of the underlying index or benchmark or the inverse or opposite performance.

To accomplish their objectives non-traditional and leveraged ETFs typically contain very complex investment products, including interest rate swap agreements, futures contracts, and other derivative instruments.  Moreover, non-traditional ETFs are designed to achieve their stated objectives only over the course of one trading session, i.e., in one day. This is because between trading sessions the fund manager for a non-traditional ETF generally will re-balance the fund’s holdings in order to meet the fund’s objectives and is known as the “daily reset.”  As a result of the daily reset the correlation between the performance of a non-traditional ETF and its linked index or benchmark is inexact and “tracking error” occurs.  Over longer periods of time or pronounced during periods of volatility, this “tracking error” between a non-traditional ETF and its benchmark becomes compounded significantly.

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shutterstock_61142644-300x225The investment attorneys of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investor claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas related products.  Our firm is currently representing a number of investors who lost substantial savings due to poor advice to concentrate holdings in speculative commodities investments like master limited partnerships (MLPs).  Kayne Anderson MLP/Midstream Investment Company (NYSE: KYN) is a non-diversified, closed-end fund with an investment objective to obtain a high after-tax total return for its shareholders by investing at least 85% of our total assets in energy-related master limited partnerships and in other companies that operate assets used in the gathering, transporting, processing, storing, refining, distributing, mining or marketing of natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil, refined petroleum products or coal.

Year to date Kayne Anderson MLP/Midstream Investment Company has returned a -57.97% return as of April 30, 2020.

As a background, MLPs are publicly traded partnerships. About 86% of the total MLP securities market, a $490 billion sector, can be attributed to energy and natural resource companies. There are about 130 MLPs trading on major exchanges that focus on energy related industries and natural resources.

Wall Street loves MLPs because they provide high yields to investors and require companies to pay Wall Street in order to continue to grow.  In 2013 banks earned fees of $890.3 million from MLP issuance.   Bloomberg quoted an analyst stating that “MLPs are Wall Street’s dream,” because “[t]hey’re fee machines.”  Naturally, in order to entice investors to continue to invest in MLPs Wall Street pumps up MLPs every chance they get.  According to Bloomberg, in May 2014 “[a]nalysts predict that 93 of the 114 MLPs in existence will rise in value in the next year…”  Astonishingly, “all but five MLPs are recommended by the majority of the analysts who cover them.”  At that time professionals without conflicts called MLPs “the next great investment debacle” and warned that “many MLP shareholders…may not understand what they’ve gotten into.”

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shutterstock_140186524-300x298The investment attorneys of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating investor claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas related products.  Our firm is currently representing a number of investors who lost substantial savings due to poor advice to concentrate holdings in speculative commodities investments like master limited partnerships (MLPs).  ClearBridge MLP and Midstream Fund, Inc. (NYSE: CEM) is a mutual fund that provides a single investment for accessing a portfolio of energy-related MLPs and midstream entities.

Year to date ClearBridge MLP and Midstream Fund has returned a -68.73% return as of April 30, 2020.  The price of the fund has fallen to $3.19.

As a background, MLPs are publicly traded partnerships. About 86% of the total MLP securities market, a $490 billion sector, can be attributed to energy and natural resource companies. There are about 130 MLPs trading on major exchanges that focus on energy related industries and natural resources.

Wall Street loves MLPs because they provide high yields to investors and require companies to pay Wall Street in order to continue to grow.  In 2013 banks earned fees of $890.3 million from MLP issuance.   Bloomberg quoted an analyst stating that “MLPs are Wall Street’s dream,” because “[t]hey’re fee machines.”  Naturally, in order to entice investors to continue to invest in MLPs Wall Street pumps up MLPs every chance they get.  According to Bloomberg, in May 2014 “[a]nalysts predict that 93 of the 114 MLPs in existence will rise in value in the next year…”  Astonishingly, “all but five MLPs are recommended by the majority of the analysts who cover them.”  At that time professionals without conflicts called MLPs “the next great investment debacle” and warned that “many MLP shareholders…may not understand what they’ve gotten into.”

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shutterstock_145368937-300x225The investment attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating and representing investors who were inappropriately recommended oil and gas and commodities related investments.  Investors may have potential legal remedies due to unsuitable recommendations by their broker to invest in this speculative and volatile area.

Mewbourne Oil Company claims on its website to have grown into one of the more prominent independent oil and natural gas producers in the Anadarko and Permian Basins of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The company focuses its efforts in the Anadarko and Permian Basins. Mewbourne clamis that the Anadarko and Permian Basins have produced more than 42 billion barrels of oil and 220 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and contain many of the largest oil and natural gas fields in the United States.

Mewbourne raises funds from investors through brokerage firms by selling interests in private placement partnerships.  Those offerings include:

Mewbourne Energy Partners 11-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 12-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 13-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 14-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 15-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 16-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 17-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 18-A, L.P.

Mewbourne Energy Partners 19-A, L.P.

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shutterstock_189006551-207x300Advisor Scot Fairchild (Fairchild), currently employed by Lucia Securities, LLC (Lucia Securities) has been subject to at least two customer complaints during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report one of the customer complaint concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In December 2019 a customer complained that Fairchild violated the securities laws by alleging that Fairchild engaged in sales practice violations related to breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations and omissions, negligence and unsuitable investments in high risk, illiquid investments purchased between 2013 and 2014 and in violation of Nevada Securities Laws. The claim alleges $214,335 and is currently pending.

In January 2019 a customer complained that Fairchild violated the securities laws by alleging that Fairchild engaged in sales practice violations related to breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract, and unsuitable investment recommendations related to Real Estate Investment Trusts purchased between on or around 2013 and 2014.  The claim alleges $500,000 and settled for $175,000.

DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for the investments.

Several studies have confirmed that Non-traded REITs underperform publicly traded REITs with some showing that Non-Traded REITs cannot even beat safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do.  Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.  Continue Reading

shutterstock_186555158-300x200Advisor Gene Esplin (Esplin), formerly employed by Kalos Capital, Inc. (Kalos) and Triad Advisors, Inc. (Triad Advisors) has been subject to at least one customer complaint during the course of his career.  According to a BrokerCheck report one of the customer complaint concerns alternative investments such as direct participation products (DPPs) like business development companies (BDCs), non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and private placements.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors who suffered losses caused by these types of high risk, low reward products.

In December 2019 a customer complained that Esplin violated the securities laws by alleging that Esplin engaged in sales practice violations related to allegations that alternative investments purchased at Triad during the Representative’s association with respondent Triad and thereafter during the Representative’s association with respondent Kalos Capital were unsuitable.  The claim alleges $1,000,000 and is currently pending.

DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure.  Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for the investments.

Several studies have confirmed that Non-traded REITs underperform publicly traded REITs with some showing that Non-Traded REITs cannot even beat safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do.  Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.  Continue Reading

shutterstock_66745735-300x200The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Darrach Bourke (Bourke), currently employed by Emerson Equity, LLC (Emerson Equity) has been subject to at least six customer complaints, five criminal disclosures, one employment termination for cause, and one regulatory matter during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Bourke’s customer complaints alleges that Bourke recommended unsuitable investments in various investments including allegations of concentrations in energy securities among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts such as unauthorized trading.

In March 2017 FINRA sanctioned Bourke finding that Bourke consented to sanctions and findings that he exercised discretion without written authorization in the accounts of two customers. FINRA found that Bourke discussed investment strategies with these customers and then Bourke exercised discretion and executed transactions in the accounts without first speaking with the customers about the specific transactions. FINRA found that Bourke had not obtained prior written authorization from the customers to exercise discretion in their accounts, and his member firm had not approved either account for discretionary trading.  FINRA fined Bourke $5,000 and suspended him for 20 business days.

Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading.  Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. All brokers are under an obligation to first discuss trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b).  These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature because no disclosure could be more important to an investor than to be made aware that a trade will take place.

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shutterstock_1744162-300x200The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating claims that advisor John Jaramillo (Jaramillo) has been accused by his former employer of selling a non-approved product among other allegations.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Jaramillo has been terminated by his prior employer, Western International Securities, Inc. (Western International) concerning his outside business activities.  If you have been a victim of Jaramillo’s alleged misconduct our firm may be able to assist you in recovering funds.

In March 2020 Western International terminated Jaramillo after alleging that he sold a non-approved product.

Jaramillo’s outside business activities disclosed on his publicly available BrokerCheck report include accident & health insurance and Integrity Real Estate Solutions which is listed as a real estate agent.

Our law firm has significant experience bringing cases on behalf of defrauded victims when their advisors engage in receiving loans from clients or selling securities sales through OBAs.  The sale of unapproved investment products – is a practice known in the industry as “selling away” – a serious violation of the securities laws.  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.  Sometimes those investments have some legitimacy but often times these types of investments can end up being Ponzi schemes or the advisor can be engaging in the conversion of funds.

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