Customers File Complaints Against Interactive Brokers for Flawed Margin Liquidations

shutterstock_103610648The law offices of Gana LLP are tracking a number of cases that have been filed against brokerage firm Interactive Brokers LLC (Interactive Brokers). These cases generally allege that due to market events affecting the customer’s accounts Interactive Brokers executed forced margin calls selling the customer’s securities. However, according to the customers Interactive Brokers did not provide investors fair pricing for the securities during the liquidations violating the “National Best Bid/Best Offer,” rule that is required in processing auto liquidations. By failing to offer fair prices for the stocks these customer their accounts were subject to additional margin calls, which results in a death spiral situation where the forced selling causes additional investment losses that causes more selling.

In one case that went to an arbitration hearing (FINRA No. 12-02766) the Claimant asserted claims of breach of contract; promissory estoppel; violation of state securities statutes; claims under common law; and vicarious liability. The Claimant alleged that Interactive Brokers’ flawed, inefficient and fraudulent margin auto-liquidation system caused auto-liquidation of the customers’ portfolios at prices inferior to the National Best Bid/Best Offer. The panel awarded the Claimant $175,000 for auto-liquidations that occurred on January 12, 2011, plus $57,200 in interest, $285,000 for auto-liquidations that occurred on August 5, 2011, and $77,000 in interest, and $72,418 for expert witness fees and other costs involved in the arbitration.

Trading on margin is a practice where the investor borrows funds from the brokerage firm and agrees to keep a maintenance margin balance or a minimum account balance. If the account value falls below the maintenance margin or the brokerage firm believes the securities are at risk at falling below that balance the firm can require investors to either deposit additional funds to bring the account back into balance or make a margin call that sells stocks in order to raise capital to pay down the loan.

Gana LLP represents investors who have suffered investment losses due to brokerage firm misconduct. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.