The Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued three Orders Instituting Administrative and Cease-and-Desist Proceedings relating to the misuse of quantitative models in managing customers’ accounts. Four entities affiliated with Transamerica and two individuals associated with one of those entities were charged with violating the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) and Advisers Act Rules. The Orders allege that AEGON USA Investment Management LLC, Transamerica Asset Management, Inc., Transamerica Capital, Inc., and Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc., marketed various products and investment strategies that used a “proprietary quant model” while failing to verify whether the models functioned as intended and without disclosing known risks connected with the models. The Transamerica entities and the individuals, Bradley Beman and Kevin Giles, submitted offers of settlement to resolve the charges. Continue reading
Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had reached a settlement with Ross Shapiro, a former managing director of Nomura Securities International, Inc. (“Nomura”). The SEC filed a complaint against Shapiro and two other defendants, Michael A. Gramins and Tyler G. Peters, in September of 2015. The complaint alleged that between January 2010 and November 2013, Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters made misrepresentations to customers about the prices of residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”) and manufactured housing asset-backed securities (“MHABS”), thereby violating the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
An RMBS is a security whose underlying assets comprise residential loans. Customers who invest in an RMBS typically obtain payments derived from the interest and principal payments on these loans. Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters provided market information and sold RMBS and MHABS on behalf of Nomura, a FINRA-registered broker-dealer. The customers in question were funds that invested in RMBS.
The SEC’s complaint alleged that Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters made various misrepresentations to customers regarding the prices at which Nomura bought and sold RMBS and MHABS and that they misrepresented the amount of compensation that Nomura would receive for arranging any trades. For example, Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters allegedly deceived customers on numerous occasions regarding how much Nomura paid for RMBS and MHABS. Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters also gave clients the impression that Nomura had paid a higher price for RMBS and MHABS than it actually had. These misrepresentations were usually made via electronic communications such as instant messaging, emails, and online chats.
In June of this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges with 13 firms that serve as registered investment advisers to private funds for failing to file Form PF. The settling companies were: Bachrach Asset Management Inc., Bilgari Capital LLC, Brahma Management Ltd., Bristol Group Inc., CAI Managers & Co. L.P., Cherokee Investment Partners LLC, Ecosystem Investment Partners LLC, Elm Partners Management LLC, HEP Management Corp., Prescott General Partners LLC, RLJ Equity Partners LLC, Rose Park Advisors LLC, and Veteri Place Corp. According to the settlement orders, “the advisers failed to file annual reports on Form PF informing the agency about the funds they advise, including the amount of assets under management, fund strategy, performance, and use of borrowed money and derivatives.” Continue reading
On May 4, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) reached a settlement with Verto Capital Management, LLC (“Verto”), a New Jersey-based life settlement firm, and its CEO, William Schantz III (“Schantz”). Verto and Schantz consented to pay the SEC about $4 million, which includes both disgorgement and a penalty, to settle claims that they used funds from new investors to pay older investors in a Ponzi-type manner. The SEC also alleged that Verto and Schantz diverted investor funds for Schantz’s personal use.
The settlement resulted from a complaint filed by the SEC in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging that between November 2013 and November 2015 Verto and Schantz issued about $12.5 million worth of nine-month 7% promissory notes to investors. Verto and Schantz claimed that the funds from these promissory notes would be used to purchase “life settlements,” which are life insurance policies that have been sold by their original owners to third-party buyers. The SEC’s complaint alleges that Verto and Schantz made a variety of misrepresentations in the sale of these promissory notes. Continue reading