Articles Posted in Private Placements

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for FINRA-1.gifSecurities America, Inc. has entered into a settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and will pay a fine of $100,000 in connection with the sale of two private placements. As part of the settlement, Securities America agreed to the following findings:

  • The firm failed to have a supervisory systems in place designed to identify misrepresentations or misleading statements made to customers regarding two private placements: (1) the IMH Secured Loan Fund and (2) Medical Provider Funding Corporation (aka “Medical Capital”).
  • Securities America’s email monitoring system failed to identify several emails that misrepresented the liquidity and safety of the IMH Secured Loan Fund.

On March 30, 2012, IMH Financial Corporation (formerly known as the IMH Secured Loand Fund) filed their Annual Report with the Securities & Exchange Commision (“SEC”). (Click here to read IMH’s Form 10-k.) The company made the following disclosure regarding the purported $9.79/share book value of the Class B and C common stock shares:

In connection with the Conversion Transactions, we issued 3,811,342 shares of Class B-1 common stock, 3,811,342 shares of Class B-2 common stock, 7,721,055 shares of Class B-3 common stock, 627,579 shares of Class B-4 common stock and 838,448 shares of Class C common stock. We have not determined a specific value for the aggregate shares issued in connection with the Conversion Transactions. However, based on our net tangible book value of approximately $165.3 million as of December 31, 2011, the current estimated book value per share for the shares issued in connection with the Conversion Transactions is $9.79 per share.

Recent IMH Blog Posts:

The following is a copy of an SEC filing recently submitted by IMH Financial Corporation (formerly IMH Secured Loan Fund) in connection with a proposed class action settlement:

On January 31, 2012, IMH Financial Corporation (“IMH”) reached a tentative settlement in principle to resolve all claims asserted by the plaintiffs in the putative class action lawsuit captioned In re IMH Secured Loan Fund Unitholders Litigation (“Litigation”), pending in the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware against IMH, certain affiliated and predecessor entities, and certain former and current officers and directors of IMH, other than the claims of one plaintiff. The tentative settlement in principle, memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”), is subject to certain class certification conditions, confirmatory discovery and final court approval (including a fairness hearing). The MOU contemplates a full release and settlement of all claims, other than the claims of the one non-settling plaintiff, against IMH and the other defendants in connection with the claims made in the Litigation.

The following are some of the key elements of the tentative settlement; however, please see the Form 8-K and corresponding exhibits for full details:

As repeatedly reported here in the California Securities Fraud Lawyer Blog, we have seen an exponential growth in investor complaints involving the sale of private placements. For those of you unacquainted with the term “private placement,” click here.

swim at own risk.jpgIn a nutshell, private placements are illiquid non-publicly traded investments that are exempt from registration requirements under the Securities Exchange Act. For this reason, only wealthy and sophisticated investors, referred to as “accredited investors,” are allowed to invest in them. In order to qualify as an accredited investor, an individual must have a net worth of $1 million or more. However, this does not mean that it is fair game for stockbrokers and investment advisors to sell private placements to anyone with a paper net worth of $1 million. See related blog posting: Even for Accredited Investors, Stockbroker Recommendations to Buy Private Placements Are Subject to the Suitability Rule.

In an effort to protect smaller investors whose only significant asset is their home, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently took steps to limit Regulation D of the Securities Exchange Act of 1933 to exclude an investor’s primary residence from the $1 million net worth calculation. Although the rule became effective February 27, 2012, the net worth prohibition actually took effect back in July 2010 when President Obama signed off on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. See blog post: Investor Home Equity to be Excluded from $1 Million Minimum Net-Worth Requirement for Accredited Investors

As noted in a previous blog posting, ALF is pursuing an arbitration claim against Ameritas Investment Corporation on behalf of an investor who borrowed funds to invest in the IMH Secured Loan Fund (now known as IMH Financial Corporation). In an unusual move, Ameritas responded by filing a cross-claim against the broker who sold the investment seeking “contractual and/or common law contribution and/or indemnity” on the basis that any harm or damage suffered was the result of acts or omissions of the broker. It is believed that the broker in question was, at the time, acting in the capacity of an agent or employee of David White & Associates based in San Ramon, California.

As a result of these developments, ALF is stepping up their investigation into this matter and is reaching out to other IMH investors who purchased through brokers employed or affiliated with Ameritas Investment Corporation and/or David White & Associates. ALF is also interested in speaking with current or former brokers employed or affiliated with Ameritas and/or David White & Associates.

Related Blog Posts:

A number of our California securities law firm clients who suffered investment losses in the IMH Secured Loan Fund (now known as IMH Financial Corporation) have reported receiving a mass-mailed solicitation letter from a law firm located in Florida. California investors should think twice before hiring an out of state law firm to handle their case. For more information, see related blog posting: Why having a California licensed securities arbitration lawyer is so important

More IMH Blog Posts:

IMH Secured Loan Fund / IMH Financial Corporation Update

IMH just disclosed in the company’s latest filing with the Securities Exchange Commision (SEC), that former CEO Shane Albers transferred 313,484 shares of stock to NW Capital as part of his separation agreement with IMH at a price of $8.02 per share. According to the SEC filing, NW Capital paid Albers $1.2 million over and above the estimated fair value for the IMH stock. By my calculation, this means the “fair value” given to Albers’ IMH stock was approximately $4.25 per share. IMH investors who purchased ownership units for $10,000/each, paid the equivalent of $45.38 per share–thus, according to these latest figures, IMH has declined by more than 90%.

There are several lawsuits pending against IMH and the original principals of the company, including a class action lawsuit. In addition, numerous investors have filed lawsuits and securities arbitration claims against their stockbrokers or financial advisors who recommended IMH. In fact, our securities law firm is currently representing a group of investors who filed an arbitration claim against Scottsdale, Arizona, financial advisor Randolf Albers who recommended and sold IMH to his clients through Albers Financial Group and Sunset Financial Services, Inc. Randy Albers is the father of IMH’s former CEO Shane Albers.

According to IMH Financial Corporation’s latest SEC filing, the company entered into a funding commitment letter with NWRA Ventures I, LLC on April 20, 2011 to obtain a $50 million loan from MWRA for a period of five years at a rate of 17% per year. Under the terms of the arrangement, Shane Albers will resign from the company and receive a $550,000 severance payment, a renewable $20,000 per month “transitional consulting” fee and more than $200,000 in expense reimbursements.

In addition, IMH reported that NWRA plans to submit a cash tender offer to purchase up to $10 million worth of Class B or Class C shares from IMH stockholders. According to the SEC filing, the offer price is expected to be at “a substantial discount to the current book value per share of our common stock.”

Following completion of the loan closing, the company also intends to offer existing investors the opportunity to purchase an aggregate of $10 million of convertible notes.

home loan.jpgOur law firm recently filed a securities arbitration claim before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on behalf of a Northern California woman who was encouraged by her investment advisor at Ameritas Investment Corporation to take out real estate loans so that she could invest in the IMH Secured Loan Fund, a private placement that was exempt from Federal securities registration requirements. The mistaken assumption in many of these cases is that the high yield offered by the investment can be used to pay the mortgage. Unfortunately for our client, a few months after she made her investment, the fund stopped making interest payments and accepting liquidation requests from investors.

As our client’s case illustrates, using a home loan to make investments is usually a bad idea and, when the investment is a speculative private placement that cannot be publicly traded or easily liquidated, it is never a good idea. [Click here for more information about private placements.] This isn’t the first time that Ameritas has run into trouble for inducing customers to take out additional mortgages and home equity loans to invest. In August 2009, FINRA fined Ameritas $100,000 for failing to adequately supervise a broker who used misleading financial plans to recommend that customers refinance their homes or take out home equity loans to pay for the purchase of securities. FINRA fined the broker $60,000 and suspended her for 60 months.

When it comes to investing in securities, always invest within your means and never bet the farm.

Thumbnail image for cards.jpg Although there is no news to report regarding the proposed IPO from IMH Financial Corporation, the company did file a new Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today. According to the SEC filing, the book value for IMH Financial Corporation shares (as of December 31, 2010) was $11.98 per share, which represents a 20% decrease from the company’s previously reported book value of $15.05 per share.

Under IMH’s new valuation, a $100,00 investment in IMH is now worth approximately $26,397, which gives new meaning to the company’s motto:

Don’t lose the money