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Enforcement Actions: Week in Review - March 18th, 2016

SEC ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

SEC Approves 2016 PCAOB Budget and Accounting Support Fee
March 14, 2016 (Litigation Release No. 51)
The SEC approved the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) annual budget and accounting support fee for 2016 which is a task that SEC is required to do annually according to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was established in efforts of the SEC to oversee and approve the PCAOB's accounting support fee and budget which funds its...

Ohio Division of Securities, In the Matter of Timothy K. Fife - Ohio IA Registration to be Revoked

In February 2016, after evidentiary hearings, the Hearing Examiner recommended that Timothy Fife's investment adviser representative registration be revoked. The Report and Recommendation is available on our website. Fife's registration is being revoked because he provided investment advice and initiated securities transactions while not licensed in Ohio and because he recommended the unsuitable purchase and holding for extended periods of time of leveraged and inverse ETFs. Dr. McCann ...

Enforcement Actions: Week in Review - January 15th, 2016

SEC ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

SEC Announces 2016 Examination Priorities
January 11, 2016 (Litigation Release No. 4)
The SEC has announced its new 2016 priorities for its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. The new priorities center around liquidity controls, public pension advisers, product promotion, exchange-traded funds, and variable annuities.

Julie M. Riewe, Co-Chief of Asset Management Unit, to Leave SEC After 10 Years of Service
January 11, 2016 (Litigation Release No. 5)...

Nicholas Schorsch Cheated Investors in Recent Nontraded REIT Mergers

Roll-ups

Recently we posted More Non-traded REIT Perfidy: The Roll-up Grift.

To re-cap: Non-traded REITs are required by state securities regulators to include language in their bylaws which closely tracks the 2007 North American Securities Administrators Association's Statement of Policy Regarding Real Estate Investment Trusts.1

NASAA guidelines protect shareholders in REITs which have not been trading for at least 12 months before being rolled-up. The protections include the requirement...

More Impossible Trade Prices Caused by Auto-liquidators: Option Combinations

In three previous blog posts, we documented how auto-liquidators execute option trades at distorted prices to their clients' detriment. The price distortions are caused by the price impact of large sell or buy orders on thinly traded securities. These distortions were reversed within minutes, but not before causing investors millions of dollars of unnecessary losses.

In "The Recent Market Turmoil Spells Trouble for Auto-liquidators like Interactive Brokers", we showed that thinly traded...

More Non-traded REIT Perfidy: The Roll-up Grift

We have extensively researched non-traded REITs and concluded that these illiquid direct participation programs have cost investors $50 billion compared to more liquid investments in traded REITs. Our Fiduciary Duties and Non-traded REITs provides a good overview of the problems with non-traded REITs and a summary of our empirical results. An Empirical Analysis of Non-Traded REITs contains a more detailed explanation of our research. See our previous blog posts on individual non-traded...

Only a Faulty Auto-liquidator Pays More for An Option Than it Can Ever Be Worth

In two previous blog posts we documented how auto-liquidators appear to have executed option trades at distorted prices to their clients' detriment on August 24, 2015. The price distortions were caused by massive sell or buy orders on thinly traded securities being dumped into the market by auto-liquidation programs. These distortions were reversed within minutes, but not before causing investors millions of dollars of unnecessary losses.

In "The Recent Market Turmoil Spells Trouble for...

UBS Puerto Rico Still Can't Shoot Straight

We've written extensively about the investment carnage caused by UBS Puerto Rico's management and sales of closed end municipal bonds funds. A summary of our findings can be found here: UBS Puerto Rico's Bond Fund Debacle: What We Know So Far .

Others will have to decide whether UBS was just incompetent or also wolfishly indifferent to Puerto Rico investors but recent evidence demonstrates that UBS Asset Managers of Puerto Rico continues to be, at least, incompetent.

The fourteen closed end...

More Signs of Trouble for Auto Liquidators

In "The Recent Market Turmoil Spells Trouble for Auto Liquidators Like Interactive Brokers" we wrote about how the market decline on August 24, 2015 revealed continuing problems at auto-liquidating brokerage firms that cater to active traders. These active traders' accounts typically are subject to "portfolio margin" requirements which we have written about at length. 1

We showed that thinly traded long-dated, deep out-of-the money SPX put options were bought on August 24, 2015 at...

Pension Purchase Agreements; The worst "investment" in the world?

In recent years, platforms for buying and selling pension benefit payments have been created and gained traction. Voyager Financial Group (VFG) operated one of the largest and most active exchanges for buying and selling pension payments. There is limited information available on the size of this market because these firms have operated under the radar of securities regulators.

In pension benefit agreements, a pensioner agrees to turn over a specific number of their future pension benefit...

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