Articles Tagged with Disclosure

On May 10, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings (“Order”) against Barclays Capital Inc. (“Barclays Capital”).  The Order alleges that Barclays Capital, in its capacity as a dually-registered investment adviser and broker-dealer, overcharged advisory clients in the course of its wealth and investment management business.  In conjunction with the Order, Barclays Capital submitted an Offer of Settlement where it agreed to pay about $97 million, which includes disgorgement and a penalty.

According to the SEC’s Order, Barclays Capital was the adviser and fiduciary to its advisory clients for two wrap fee programs: the Select Advisors Program and the Accommodation Manager Program, both of which were launched in September 2010.  Starting in September 2010 and ending around the close of 2014, Barclays Capital assured Select Advisors Program clients in both client agreements and in its brochure that “Barclays Capital performed initial due diligence and ongoing monitoring of third-party managers it recommended to manage its clients’ assets using specific investment strategies.”  Likewise, beginning in May 2011 and ending in March 2013, Barclays Capital assured Accommodation Manager Program clients that it conducted limited due diligence and monitoring of Accommodation Manager Program strategies. Continue reading

A compliance advisor working for City Securities Corporation (“City Securities”) has agreed to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) in a FINRA enforcement case alleging deficiencies in the way the advisor performed his compliance duties at the broker-dealer.  John Walter Ruggles, who first became registered in 1993 and became associated with City Securities in May 2014, was charged with failing to generate monthly Municipal Continuing Disclosure Reports (MCDs), which are required in order to comply with the Municipal Securities Rule Making Board’s (MSRB) disclosure requirements.  More specifically, among Ruggles’ tasks were to populate the MCDs with transaction data on behalf of City Securities’ customers and to email the data to the private client group, who would then routinely use the information contained in Ruggles’ emails to prepare customer satisfaction letters to City Securities’ clients regarding recent municipal bond trading activity.

The AWC alleges that Ruggles’ supervisor confronted Ruggles with the fact that he had not received the MCDs due for February 2015, and asked Ruggles to produce documentation showing that Ruggles had performed the tasks going back to June 2014.  Ruggles provided six printed emails to his supervisor in response to the supervisor’s request.  Those emails contain the trade details that were supposed to have been included in the MCDs.  The supervisor, however, attempted to verify the data contained in Ruggles’ printed emails, but in investigating the situation found (1) that City Securities’ email backup files did not contain any of the emails that Ruggles provided, (2) that several of the execution dates referenced on the bond trades in the emails were different from the actual execution dates as reflected in the transaction data, (3) that for a period of approximately five months, the firm’s compliance system showed that Ruggles had not opened and viewed the MCDs from which he was supposed to have taken the data, and (4) that the falsified emails contained erroneous dates in the subject lines.

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Last week we discussed the Lucia matter and the parameters it added for investment advisers to consider prior to utilizing performance advertisements. Today we will discuss two more administrative proceedings involving performance advertisements and the practical implications which can be taken from these cases.

The matter of Virtus Investment Advisers revolved around one of Virtus’ sub-advisers, F-Squared Investments. F-Squared was an investment adviser that had previously been fined by the SEC for allegedly advertising false inflated performance numbers of its most successful investment strategy, AlphaSector. AlphaSector consisted of an algorithm-based sector rotation strategy which traded nine industry exchange-traded funds from the S&P 500 Index. Virtus’ assets under management which utilized this strategy grew from $191 million at the end of 2009 to 11.5 billion by 2013. Unfortunately, F-Squared allegedly falsely stated that the AlphaSector strategy had a history dating back to 2001 and that it had historically outperformed the S&P 500 Index from 2001 to 2008. The SEC found that no assets had tracked the strategy from 2001 to 2008 and its back-tested performance data was miscalculated and substantially overstated results.

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Investment advisers continue to get into regulatory trouble when it comes to failing to disclose conflicts of interest and related party transactions as required by both federal and state investment adviser law. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated proceedings against Fenway Partners, a New York-based registered investment adviser which served as adviser to three private equity funds. The conflicts arose around two related entities: Fenway Partners Capital Fund III, L.P., an affiliated fund, and Fenway Consulting Partners, an affiliate largely owned by the executives and owners of Fenway Partners.

Fenway Partners and Fenway Consulting Partners were both owned and managed in large part by respondents Peter Lamm, William Smart, Timothy Mayhew, and Walter Wiacek. The fund in question, Fund III, was operated by an Advisory Board consisting of independent limited partner representatives, pursuant to its organizational documents. According to the SEC allegations, the respondents failed to disclose several conflicts of interest and related party transactions to both the Advisory Board of Fund III and their fund investors.
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Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that registered investment adviser Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC had consented to settle charges that it breached its fiduciary duty to its clients in connection with a $50 million loan made by a client to one of Guggenheim’s senior executives. Specifically, Guggenheim failed to disclose the existence of the loan and the conflicts of interests created by the loan, to its clients. Guggenheim agreed to pay a total of $20 million dollars to settle the charges.

According to the order instituting the administrative proceeding, the senior executive borrowed the funds from an advisory client so that he could make a personal investment in another corporation that was being acquired by Guggenheim’s parent company. The client who made the loan was one of several advisory clients of Guggenheim that invested, at Guggenheim’s recommendation, in two unrelated transactions. The client who made the loan, however, was permitted to invest in the unrelated transactions on different terms than the investors who had not made a loan to Guggenheim.
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