Articles Tagged with Capital Guardian

shutterstock_20354401The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating potential unsuitable investments and recommendations in a number of oil and gas related ventures including Adageo Energy. According to the company’s website Adageo Energy specializes in high-growth, high-return opportunities in the energy sector. The company’s focus includes the identification, acquisition, drilling, development, and operation of oil and gas properties. Adageo Energy is a sponsor of several oil and gas private placements.

One such issuance is Adageo Energy Partners, LP which according to SEC filings sought to raise $50 million and raised at least $31 million of that amount through brokerage firms including Direct Capital Securities, Inc., Madison Avenue Securities, Inc., WFP Securities, Inc., Arete Wealth Management, LLC, Newbridge Securities Corporation, Charter Pacific Securities, LLC, ePLANNING Securities, Inc., Sunset Financial Services, Inc., Jesup & Lamont Securities Corp., and Capital Guardian, LLC.

As reported in Reuters for issuers other than Adageo Energy, many of these types of private placement deals fail and investors take outsized risks compared to the scant compensation they are likely to receive. The issue with oil and gas private placements is two fold. First the much of the investor’s funds are eaten up by fees and costs and are never used for investment purposes. For instance and analysis of Atlas Energy LP found that the issuer typically charged between 15 percent and 20 percent in upfront fees from investors and paid brokers an additional 10 percent of the total offering in sales commissions. According to Reuters, investors only get to see 65-70% of their capital actually put to work on oil and gas projects.

shutterstock_146470052This article follows up on a recent article reported in Reuters concerning Atlas Energy LP’s private placement partnerships in oil and gas. Atlas Resources LLC, a subsidiary the energy group, has filed documents with the SEC for Atlas Resources Series 34-2014 LP stating that it seeks to raise as much as $300 million by Dec. 31 of 2014. The deal allows investors to participate in investments where advances in drilling technology have turned previously inaccessible reservoirs of oil into viable prospects. In addition, Atlas promises to invest up to $145 million of its own capital alongside investors.

In the last article we explored how the house seems more likely to win on these deals over investors. But beyond the inherent risks with speculating on oil and gas and unknown oil deposits most investors don’t realize the deals are often unfair to investors. In a normal speculative investment as the investment risk goes up the investor demands greater rewards to compensate for the additional risk. However, with oil and gas private placements the risks are sky high and the rewards simply don’t match up.

In order to counter this criticism, issuers say that the tax benefits of their deals where the investor can write off more than 90 percent of their initial outlay the year they make it helps defray the risk and increase the value proposition. First, the same tax advantage claims are often nominal compared to the principal risk of loss of the investment as seen by Puerto Rican investors in the UBS Bond Funds who have now seen their investments decline by 50% or more in some cases. Second, often times brokers sell oil and gas investments indiscriminately to the young and old who have lower incomes and cannot take advantage of the tax benefits.

shutterstock_103610648As recently reported in Reuters, Atlas Energy LP has marketed itself to investors as a way to get into the U.S. energy boom. By contributing at least $25,000 in a private placement partnership that will drill for oil and gas in states such as Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania and share in revenues generated from the wells. Atlas Resources LLC, a subsidiary the energy group, has filed documents with the SEC for Atlas Resources Series 34-2014 LP stating that it seeks to raise as much as $300 million by Dec. 31 of 2014. The deal sounds good when pitched: participate in investments where advances in drilling technology have turned previously inaccessible reservoirs of fossil fuels into potentially viable prospects and to boot Atlas will invest up to $145 million of its own capital alongside investors. Through this method and similar deals, oil and gas projects have issued nearly 4,000 private placements since 2008 seeking to raise as much as $122 billion.

But before you take the plunge a review of the Atlas’s offering memorandum reveals some red flags and given Atlas’ past failure rate investors should think twice. First, up to $45 million of the money raised will be paid to Atlas affiliate Anthem Securities that will then be turned over to as commissions to broker-dealers who pitch the deal to investors. Up to $39 million more will be used to buy drilling leases from another affiliate. Think investors will get a fair price on the leases when Atlas controls both sides of the deal? More conflicts ahead as Atlas affiliated suppliers may also get up to $53 million for buying drilling and transport equipment. Next, an additional $8 million of Atlas’s investment is a 15 percent markup on estimated equipment costs. Finally, Atlas will pay itself nearly $52 million in various other fees and markups.

In sum, at least 40% of Atlas’s $145 million investment alongside mom and pop goes right back to the company. In addition, Atlas’ profits don’t stop there, when the venture starts generating revenue Atlas is entitled to 33% before accounting for those payments and markups. In the end, not much of a risk at all for Atlas.

shutterstock_80511298The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker Kevin Nevin (Nevin) concerning allegations that Nevin participated in 11 private securities transactions totaling $690,000 over the course of two years without first disclosing his participation his member firm. Through this conduct, FINRA found that Nevin violated NASD Conduct Rules 3040 and 2110.

Nevin entered the securities industry in 1994 and is currently a representative of Capital Guardian, LLC. In March 2006, Nevin became associated with VSR Financial Services (VSR) until February 2011, when he was terminated. In addition, to the recent FINRA complaint, Nevin has also been subject to three customer complaints. Some of the customer complaints concern allegations of unsuitable sales practices and securities fraud concerning variable annuities. Another customer complaint concerns the recommendation of oil & gas and real estate related private placements.

FINRA alleged that during part of the time he was registered with VSR, Nevin operated out of an office with another VSR registered representative referred to by the initials “PL.”   FINRA found that PL was involved with at least three private placement offerings involving real estate and/or appurtenant property rights entities in the state of Colorado: Breakwater Capital Group, LLC; Yokam Land Holdings, LLC; and South Platte Land & Water, LLC. FINRA found that PL assured Nevin that he had informed VSR of the involvement in the Colorado water rights and real estate activity and that the private placement offerings were conducted entirely under the operations of PL’s real-estate agency. According to FINRA, PL told Nevin that he could recommend investments in these offerings to his customers and earn commissions on any ensuing investments if he obtained a real-estate license.