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March 3, 2010

Even for Accredited Investors, Stockbroker Recommendations to Buy Private Placements Are Subject to the Suitability Rule

In my California-based securities law practice, most of my clients that own a home qualify as "accredited investors" within the meaning of Regulation D which exempts private placements from federal securities registration requirements. Rule 501 of the Securities Act of 1933 defines an accredited investor as any person with a net worth (or joint net worth with a spouse) in excess of $1,000,000 at the time of purchase.

danger sign.jpgFinancial advisors or stockbrokers who sell private placements are subject to the rules and standards promulgated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). According to FINRA, stockbrokers who act as selling agents for private placements are required to conduct a due diligence investigation of the offering so that they understand the nature of the investment and its risks. Also, before recommending a private placement to a particular customer, the stockbroker must perform a suitability analysis by examining the customer's overall financial situation and investment objectives. Because a home can represent an investor's largest asset, net worth alone should never be used to determine whether an investment is suitable. A customer's status as an accredited investor does not release a stockbroker from the suitability requirements.

Recently, there has been a surge in investor complaints involving private placements that were sold by broker-dealers who were acting as selling agents. Private placements that are creating a lot of investor complaints include: Medical Capital, IMH Secured Loan Fund, Provident Asset Management, Striker Petroleum and DBSI. Some of the broker dealers who actively sold one or more of these private placements are Securities America, QA3 Financial, National Securities, CapWest, Independent Financial Group, just to name a few. Please contact us if you have any questions about unsuitable private placements.

Related Blog Posts:

Investor Home Equity to be Excluded from $1 Million Minimum Net-Worth Requirement for Accredited Investors

It's Time to Change the Accredited Investor Rule for Private Placements

December 7, 2009

SEC Strikes at Striker Petroleum for Securities Fraud

Striker debentures can now be added to the growing list of private-placement offerings that were marketed through a network of stockbrokers that have recently become embroiled in securities fraud lawsuits. This week, the SEC alleged that Striker Petroleum, LLC deceived approximately 540 investors into purchasing $57 million worth of fraudulent debentures. The SEC is alleging that Striker was selling the debentures to pay off prior debenture holders and to pay fixed returns to investors who had invested in Legacy oil and gas properties.

According to one industry news source, the Striker debentures were sold through a nationwide network of stockbrokers, including CapWest Securities. As a result, many investors who purchased Striker debentures may also have been sold interests in Provident Asset Management and Medical Capital--two private placements that are already the focus of SEC and investor lawsuits. As we noted in a recent blog posting on this very subject: Brokers who recommended these investments have a lot of explaining to do.

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