May 2011 Archives

May 31, 2011

So you want to be a whistleblower?

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the SEC's new securities fraud whistleblower program. The new rules will not become effective until 60 days after they've been published in the Federal Register.

May 27, 2011

Toxic ETFs

Leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds (ETFs) are prominently featured in a list of the "15 Most Outrageous ETFs" recently published by Forbe's Magazine.

Click here for more blog postings about leveraged and inverse ETFs.

Thumbnail image for toxic.jpg1. Direxion Daily Semiconductor Bull 3x Shares
Ticker: SOXL
Status: Active

2. ProShares Ultra KBW Regional Banking
Ticker: KRU
Status: Active

3. Market Vectors Mongolia
Ticker: N/A
Status: Slated for launch in 2011.

4. HealthShares Dermatology and Wound Care
Ticker: N/A
Status: Shuttered in 2008.

5. PowerShares Dynamic Brand Name Products Portfolio
Ticker: N/A
Status: Never launched.

6. Direxion Daily Agribusiness Bear 3x Shares
Ticker: COWS
Status: Active

7. HealthShares Drug Discovery Tools
Ticker: N/A
Status: Shuttered in 2008.

8. PowerShares Autonomic Allocation Research Affiliates Portfolio
Ticker: N/A
Status: Never launched.

9. iShares S&P North American Technology-Multimedia Networking Index Fund
Ticker: IGN
Status: Active

10. PowerShares Lux NanoTech
Ticker: PXN
Status: Active

11. Global X Uranium
Ticker: URA
Status: Active

12. IndexIQ IQ ARB Merger Arbitrage
Ticker: MNA
Status: Active

13. Claymore/Morningstar Manufacturing Super Sector Index
Ticker: N/A
Status: Shuttered in 2009.

14. Direxion Daily 2-Year Treasury Bear 3x Shares
Ticker: N/A
Status: Shuttered in 2010

15. FocusShares ISE Homebuilders Index
Ticker: N/A
Status: Shuttered in 2008.

May 25, 2011

SEC Approves Final Rules For Securities Fraud Whistleblower Program

Thumbnail image for whistle.jpgToday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved final rules to create a securities whistleblower program to reward individuals who provide the SEC with tips that lead to a successful enforcement action. The new rule will become effective 60 days after they are submitted to Congress or published in the Federal Register. Click here for updated blog posts and information about the new Securities Fraud Whistleblower Program.

May 16, 2011

ALF Investigating Claims Involving Lifestyle Design Group

The Alcala Law Firm is investigating claims about the sales practices of Lifestyle Design Group International and the firm's CEO Thomas Quinlin, a self-proclaimed "Renegade Wealth Advisor" who prefers to create his own financial instruments over which he has complete control. Funds created and controlled by Quinlin include: QVEST LLC; QVEST II, LLC; QVEST III, LLC; and QVEST III Master Fund, L.P. In an email to investors dated April 22, 2011, Quinlin acknowledged that the QVEST III Master Fund suffered significant losses in a construction project in Phucket, Thailand. Lifestyle Design Group customers may have also suffered losses in other non-conventional investments, including Retirement Value, LLC and American Pegasus.

May 13, 2011

Life Partners Holdings Receives Wells Notice

On May 13, 2011, Life Partners Holdings, Inc. received a "Wells Notice" from U.S. regulators regarding the accuracy of estimated life expectancies for settlors. Life Partners is also facing several class action lawsuits which accuse the company of misleading investors by underestimating the life expectancies of the insured individuals and selling the policies at inflated prices.

Click here for more information about life settlements.

May 2, 2011

California Stockbroker Discipline Report for the First Quarter of 2011

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for warning_flag.jpgThe following information regarding broker misconduct and disciplinary actions taken against California stockbrokers was released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in January, February, March and April 2011:

Michael Timothy Rodman, with USA Advanced Planners, Inc. in Rancho Santa Fe, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for 10 business days in connection with the execution of variable life settlement transactions and charging of excessive commissions.

Paul Richard Soto, formerly with Metlife Securities Inc. in Sacramento, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for 10 business days and fined $5,000 in connection with a finding that he exercised discretions in customer accounts without written authorization from his firm.

Robert John Zamecki, with Lighthouse Capital Corporation in Oakland, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for 30 days and fined $12,500 in connection with a failure to supervise a registered representative's private securities transactions.

Allen Michael Kay, formerly with Wachovia Securities, LLC in Bermuda Dunes, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for one year and fined $50,000 in connection with misleading risk-averse customers to invest in mutual funds that did not comply with their investment objectives or risk tolerance. Kay allegedly misrepresented the nature of the investment, leading his customers to believe that they were being place in the type of safe and secure investments they were interested in such as government bonds or bank instruments.

Hansel Clarence Cua Lee, formerly with Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated in Glendale, California, was barred from association with any FINRA member in connection with the sale of $500,000 worth of Treasury and municipal securities in a customer's account without the permission of the customer and requested that a check be drawn for the $500,000 to be made payable to a company in his ownership and control.

Timothy Robert Mays, formerly with Financial Network Investment Corporation in Santa Barbara, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for eight months and fined $5,000 in connection with the falsification of firm records of client accounts including, when customers did not sign necessary documents, placing the signatures himself rather than giving those documents back to clients to sign.

Matthew David Osborn, formerly with Edward Jones in Yreka, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for 10 business days and fined $5,000 in connection with exercising discretion in a customer account without the customer's authorization.

Lawrence Ira Goldstein, with Oppenheimer & Co. Inc in Los Angeles, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for 10 business days and fined $6,623 in connection with the recommendation of unsuitable investments for his customer that were contrary to that customer's investment objectives. Goldstein allegedly recommended that the customer invest in auction rate securities and preferred securities that were rated below investment grade.

Stuart Phillip Miller, formerly with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated in La Jolla, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for one year and fined $10,000 in connection with the joint solicitation and handling of customer accounts with another individual - where Miller and the individual created a model fund portfolio to present to potential customers and misrepresenting that they managed the portfolio. Miller and the individual failed to include any information about risk associated with the funds in the portfolio.

Mission Securities Corporation in San Diego, California, was expelled from FINRA membership and Registered Principal, Craig Michael Biddick in Rancho Santa Fe, California, was barred from association with any FINRA member. Both Biddick and Mission Securities were ordered to pay $38,946.06 to firm customers in connection with the misuse of customer securities.

Daniel A. Contreras, formerly with Multi-Financial Securities Corporation in Ontario, California, was barred from association with any FINRA member in connection with recommending customers to invest in promissory notes not approved by his member firm. The company that issued the promissory notes filed for Bankruptcy and Contreras' customers lost all of their investment.

Alvin Waino Gebhart Jr., formerly with AFA Financial Group, LLC in Calabasas, California, was barred from association with any FINRA member and Donna Traina Gebhart, formerly with AFA Financial Group, LLC in Calabasas, California, was suspended from association with any FINRA member for one year and fined $15,000 in connection with engaging in private securities transactions without approval of their firm.

Richard Mark McKinnon, formerly with First Allied Securities, Inc. in Sacramento, California, was barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity in connection with the recommendation of bonds, bond funds and annuities to an elderly customer who entrusted funds to make the investment with McKinnon. According to the findings, McKinnon deposited the customer's funds in his personal bank account and improperly used the funds for personal expenses.