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Archive for the ‘Provident Royalties’ Category

Wedbush Morgan broker Bambi Holzer’s Sale of Private Placements Including Provident Royalties Comes Under Fire

A broker whose employment record is littered with customer complaints over variable annuities is now the focus of investor lawsuits over highly illiquid and risky private-placement investments.

The broker, Bambi Holzer, has 42 settled customer disputes, according to information posted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. Four other disputes against her are currently pending, including one $200,000 investor claim based on selling private placements.

Ms. Holzer is currently a registered rep affiliated with two firms: Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc. and Sequoia Equities Securities Corp.

Variable annuities and private placements are high-commission products. Regulators this year and last have been combing the records of broker-dealers that sold private placements.

Last summer, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Provident with fraud. The firm allegedly sold $485 million in private securities to investors. This month Finra expelled Provident Asset Management LLC, the broker-dealer arm of the Provident operation.

Provident marketed a series of fraudulent private placements through Provident Royalties in a massive Ponzi scheme, Finra said.

Provident Asset Management Expelled for Offering Fraudulent Private Placement Deal

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has expelled Provident Asset Management, LLC, a Dallas based broker-dealer. The expulsion stems from a series of fraudulent private placement offerings marketed through an affiliate, Provident Royalties, LLC. Some have called the offering a Ponzi scheme, a massive one at that, involving thousands of investors.

Provident Asset Management was found to have misrepresented how the funds raised through the offering would be used. Despite assurances that capital raised would be used in the exploration and acquisition of real estate, oil and gas leases, and gaining mineral rights, investor funds were in actuality commingled and used by an affiliated issuer to pay off older investors.

The scheme operated for almost three years through 23 series of offerings sold via a network of over 50 retail broker-dealers. Through these offerings and this network of broker-dealers, over $480 million was raised, involving some 7,700 individual investments made by thousands of investors around the country.

Though the move announced by FINRA today will be welcomed by many, it does little to amend the damage done to defrauded investors. Many have turned to FINRA arbitration as a means to recoup their investment loss.



On July 2, 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a temporary restraining order and emergency asset freeze in a $485 million offering fraud and Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Paul R. Melbye, Brendan W. Coughlin and Henry D. Harrison through a company they owned and controlled, Provident Royalties LLC. In addition to the asset freeze, the court has appointed a receiver to preserve and marshal assets for the benefit of investors.

The Commission alleges that from at least June 2006 through January 2009, Provident made a series of fraudulent offerings of preferred stock and limited partnership interests for the purpose of generating promised returns through investments in oil and gas assets. The complaint alleges the sales were made through 21 affiliated entities to more than 7,700 investors throughout the United States. It is also alleged that Provident Asset Management, LLC, an affiliated broker-dealer, made some direct retail sales of securities, but primarily solicited unaffiliated retail broker-dealers to enter into placement agreements for each offering, and those retail broker-dealers sold the stock to retail investors nationwide.

According to the Commission’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Provident falsely promised yearly returns of up to 18 percent and misrepresented to investors that 85 percent of the funds raised through the offerings would be used to purchase interests in oil and gas real estate, leases, mineral rights, and interests, exploration and development. The Commission alleges that, in fact, less than 50 percent of investor funds were used for their stated purpose, and the proceeds from later offerings were used to pay expenses related to earlier offerings and returns to investors in those offerings.

The Commission’s complaint charges the defendants with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The complaint seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and financial penalties. Officer and director bars are sought against Melbye, Harrison and Coughlin. Five affiliated entities that did not sell securities are named as relief defendants for purposes of disgorgement.

The SEC acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in this matter.

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