SEC Brings Action Against Miller Energy Resources on the Heals of Bankruptcy

shutterstock_172154582The law offices of Gana LLP are currently investigating brokerage firms that placed investors in oil and gas related investments and who have suffered losses as a result. One company under investigation is Miller Energy Resources Inc. (Stock Symbol: MILL). According to a Wall Street Journal article, creditors of Miller’s Cook Inlet Energy LLC subsidiary filed an involuntary chapter 11 petition claiming about $2.8 million in debts owed.

The involuntary bankruptcy filing comes shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused the company of a valuation related accounting fraud. The SEC alleged that Miller Energy acquired oil and gas properties in Alaska in late 2009 for $2.5 million and then allegedly overstated the value of its holdings by more than $400 million in order to boost the company’s net income and assets.

The SEC’s complaint charged Miller Energy, its former chief financial officer and its current chief operating officer for allegedly inflating values of oil and gas properties. The alleged scheme had the effect of taking Miller Energy from a penny stock into a security that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange reaching a $9 per share high in 2013. Trading in Miller Energy was suspended at the end of July. Miller Energy stated that the SEC’s civil action is related to alleged valuation errors from five years ago and the action is not warranted by the facts or the law.

Our offices continue to report on investment losses suffered by investors in energy and oil and gas related investments that brokerage firms have increasingly recommended to retail investors in recent years. Investors have been exposed to energy investments through a variety of investment vehicles including private placements, master limited partnerships (MLPs), leveraged ETFs, mutual funds, and even individual stocks.

Oil and gas and commodities related investments have been recommended by brokers under the assumption that commodities prices would continue to go up. However, due to a combination of forces including slack demand in China and the strengthening dollar, last summer the price of oil & gas plummeted and remains around $40 to this day. Some experts are saying that if production volume continues to be as high as it currently is and demand growth weak that the return to $100 a barrel is years away.

Before recommending investments in oil and gas companies, brokers and advisors must ensure that the investment is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company in order to understand the risks and prospects of the company. Many of these companies relied upon high energy prices in order to sustain their operations. As reported by the Wall Street Journal the drop in oil and energy prices and the industry downturn has made it difficult for many companies to refinance their debts.

Brokers who sell oil and gas products are obligated to understand the risks of these investments and convey them to clients. Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.