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Archive for the ‘Municipal bonds’ Category

AUB investigates UBS Puerto Rico for losses in bond funds

Aidikoff, Uhl & Bakhtiari continues to investigate the sales practices of Wall Street firms in recommending bond funds to it’s clients.

In May 2012 the SEC issued a Cease-and-Desist Order against UBS Puerto Rico. Pursuant to the order, UBS Puerto Rico agreed to pay $26 million in disgorgement and settle charges that it sold allegedly mispriced closed end funds to investors. The alleged mispricing related to proprietary funds of UBS Puerto Rico which invested in Puerto Rican municipal bonds.

On October 2, 2013 the New York Times reported that UBS has undertaken an investigation over the sales of leveraged bond funds to its clients.   Some of the bond funds at issue may be:

 Tax-Free Puerto Rico Fund

Tax-Free Puerto Rico Fund II

Tax-Free Puerto Rico Target Maturity Fund

Puerto Rico AAA Portfolio Target Maturity Fund, Inc.

Puerto Rico AAA Portfolio Bond Fund

Puerto Rico AAA Portfolio Bond Fund II

Puerto Rico GNMA & U.S. Government Target Maturity Fund

Puerto Rico Mortgage-Backed & U.S. Government Securities Fund

Puerto Rico Fixed Income Fund

Puerto Rico Fixed Income Fund II

Puerto Rico Fixed Income Fund III

Puerto Rico Fixed Income Fund IV

Puerto Rico Fixed Income Fund V

Puerto Rico Fixed Income Fund VI

Puerto Rico Short Term Investment Fund

Multi-Select Securities Puerto Rico Fund

Puerto Rico Investors Tax-Free Fund

Puerto Rico Investors Tax-Free Fund II

Puerto Rico Investors Tax-Free Fund III

Puerto Rico Investors Tax-Free Fund IV

Puerto Rico Investors Tax-Free Fund V

Puerto Rico Investors Tax-Free Fund VI

Aidikoff, Uhl & Bakhtiari represents retail and institutional investors around the world in securities arbitration and litigation matters.  Attorneys for the firm have appeared before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and in numerous state and federal courts to resolve financial disputes between customers, banks, brokerage firms and other financial institutions.

SEC charges Victorville and others in connection with municipal bond offering

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged that the City of Victorville, Calif., a city official, the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority, and Kinsell, Newcomb & DeDios (KND), the underwriter of the Airport Authority’s bonds, defrauded investors by inflating valuations of property securing an April 2008 municipal bond offering.

Victorville Assistant City Manager and former Director of Economic Development Keith C. Metzler, KND owner J. Jeffrey Kinsell, and KND Vice President Janees L. Williams were responsible for false and misleading statements made in the Airport Authority’s 2008 bond offering, the SEC alleged. It also charged that KND, working through a related party, misused more than $2.7 million of bond proceeds to keep itself afloat.

“Financing redevelopment projects by selling municipal bonds based on inflated valuations violates the public trust as well as the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws,” said George S. Canellos, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Public officials have the same obligation as corporate officials to tell the truth to their investors.”

Elaine C. Greenberg, Chief of the SEC’s Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, said, “Investors are entitled to full disclosure of material financial arrangements entered into by related parties. Underwriters who secretly line their own pockets by taking unauthorized fees will be held accountable.”

The SEC alleges the Airport Authority, which is controlled by the City of Victorville, undertook a variety of redevelopment projects, including the construction of four airplane hangars on a former Air Force base. It financed the projects by issuing tax increment bonds, which are solely secured by and repaid from property-tax increases attributable to increases in the assessed value of property in the redevelopment project area.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, by April 2008, the Airport Authority was forced to refinance part of the debt incurred to construct the hangars, and other projects, by issuing additional bonds. The principal amount of the new bond issue was partly based on Metzler, Williams, and Kinsell using a $65 million valuation for the airplane hangars even though they knew the county assessor valued the hangars at less than half that amount. The inflated figure allowed the Airport Authority to issue substantially more bonds and raise more money than it otherwise would have. It also meant that investors were given false information about the value of the security available to repay them.

In addition, the SEC’s investigation found that Kinsell, KND, and another of his companies misappropriated more than $2.7 million in bond proceeds that were supposed to be used to build airplane hangars for the Airport Authority. According to the SEC’s complaint, the scheme began when Kinsell learned of allegations that the contractor building the hangars had likely diverted bond proceeds for his own personal use. When the contractor was removed, Kinsell stepped in to oversee the hangar project through another company he owned, KND Affiliates, LLC, even though Kinsell had no construction experience.

The SEC alleges that the Airport Authority loaned KND Affiliates more than $60 million in bond proceeds for the hangar project and agreed that as compensation for the project, KND Affiliates would receive a construction management fee of two percent of the remaining cost of construction. However, Kinsell and KND Affiliates took an additional $450,000 in unauthorized fees to oversee the construction and took $2.3 million in fees that the Airport Authority was unaware of and never agreed to, purportedly as compensation to “manage” the hangars. The SEC alleges that Kinsell and KND Affiliates hid these fees from the Airport Authority representatives and from the auditors who reviewed KND Affiliates’ books and records.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that the Airport Authority, Kinsell, KND, and KND Affiliates violated the antifraud provisions of U.S. securities laws and that KND violated 15B(c)(1) of the Exchange Act and Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Rules G-17, G-27 and G-32(a)(iii)(A)(2). The complaint also alleges that Victorville, Metzler, KND, Kinsell, and Williams aided and abetted various violations. The SEC is seeking the return of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, financial penalties, and permanent injunctions against all of the defendants, as well as the return of ill-gotten gains from relief defendant KND Holdings, the parent company of KND.

Los Angeles based man charged in municipal bond fraud scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of a Los Angeles man orchestrating a securities fraud by falsely presenting himself to investors as a specialist in municipal bond investments.

The SEC alleges that Michael Anthony Gonzalez raised approximately $1 million since February 2010 by telling investors he would invest their money in specific tax-exempt municipal bonds insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) . In reality, Gonzalez never purchased the bonds and instead deposited investor money into his own bank account for personal use. He later attempted to conceal the scheme by providing investors with phony confirmation statements.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Gonzalez falsely told investors that he was associated with New York-based broker-dealer May Capital Group in order to portray himself as a legitimate money manager. Gonzalez had no dealings with May Capital, and through his false representations and fake confirmations he succeeded in giving investors the false impression that their investments were insured and safe. Gonzalez also provided investors with phony trade confirmations that identified securities that were either not purchased or non-existent.

The Honorable S. James Otero, United States District Judge, granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order against Gonzalez and issued orders freezing his assets, requiring accountings, prohibiting the destruction of documents, and granting expedited discovery .  The court will hold a hearing on the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction on May 25, 2012.

Moody’s Adds 5 States to Creditwatch List

Moody’s Investors Service placed its ratings on five Aaa-rated states on watch for downgrade, saying if the U.S. government’s ratings were to be lowered, those states would face probable cuts as well.

The ratings agency’s action on Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia affect a combined $24 billion of general obligation and related debt. It follows Moody’s announcement last week that it would consider a downgrade on the U.S. government’s bond rating, citing the “rising possibility that the statutory debt limit will not be raised on a timely basis,” which would lead to a default on U.S. Treasury debt obligations.

Moody’s on Tuesday said it would review each of the five states on a case-by-case basis and plans to act on the ratings within seven to 10 days following a sovereign action.

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