Articles Tagged with Ponzi Scheme

David Gentile, the disgraced founder and former CEO of GPB Capital Holdings LLC, has sued GPB Capital. Mr. Gentile seeks to make GPB Capital, which an independent court-appointed monitor is now overseeing, cover the legal costs for his defense against criminal and civil securities fraud.

In February 2021, Mr. Gentile was criminally charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy in federal court. The criminal complaint alleged that Mr. Gentile, among others, engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by misrepresenting the source of funds used to make monthly distributions to investors and the amount of revenue generated by two of GPB’s investment funds, GPB Holdings, LP, and GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP.

Separately, the SEC has charged Mr. Gentile, GPB Capital, and related entities with running a Ponzi-like scheme that raised roughly $1.8 billion from securities issued by GPB Capital. The SEC believes that as many as 17,000 retail investors nationwide have been defrauded.

Over the past calendar year, GPB Capital investors have won over $2.4 million in monetary awards in 10 out of 11 (nearly 91%) arbitration claims that have proceeded to a final hearing.  According to public records, many other claims filed against broker-dealers who sold the private placements offered by GPB Capital have been settled for monetary compensation.

The judgments and awards come after years of filing lawsuits and arbitration claims by GPB Capital investors.

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Between July 2013 and June 2018, limited partners invested $675 million into GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP, which was sold as a private placement offering by broker-dealers and registered investment advisory firms across the country. Financial advisors, who received large commissions for selling limited partnership units of GPB Automotive, lured investors into this high-risk and illiquid security by emphasizing a high rate of return and monthly distributions.  Unfortunately for investors, distributions have not been paid since December 2018.

With the recent announcement that GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP agreed to sell Prime Automotive for $880 million, limited partners have been wondering what that means for them.

Below, we delve into GPB Automotive LP’s latest quarterly filing with the SEC to look for answers.

According to SEC filings, GPB Automotive Portfolio LP entered into an agreement with Group 1 Automotive, Inc. on September 12, 2021, to sell Prime Automotive for $880 million, consisting of 30 car dealerships and three collision centers located in the Northeast of the United States.  According to a press release issued by Group 1 Automotive, Inc., the Prime Automotive dealerships generated $1.8 billion in annual revenues in 2020.

The future of GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP remains uncertain. Investors of GPB Automotive Portfolio LP are encouraged to act now and contact a securities arbitration law firm for a free consultation and review of their legal rights.

Iorio Altamirano LP is a securities arbitration law firm that represents GPB Automotive investors.  

On August 20, 2021, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed an emergency action to stop a fraudulent Ponzi scheme allegedly perpetrated by Marietta, Georgia resident John Woods and two entities he controls: registered investment adviser Livingston Group Asset Management Company, d/b/a Southport Capital (“Southport”), and investment fund Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC.

The complaint alleged that John Woods has been running a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade. At the end of July 2021, Woods and Southport have raised more than $110 million from over 400 investors in 20 states by offering and selling membership units in Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC (“Horizon”).

Many of the victims are elderly retirees preyed upon by investment advisers at Southport Capital (“Southport”), a registered investment advisory firm owned and controlled by Woods.  According to the SEC’s complaint, Woods, Southport, and other Southport investment adviser representatives allegedly told investors that their Horizon investments were safe and they would receive returns of 6-7% interest, guaranteed for two to three years.  Investors were also allegedly told that they could get their principal back without penalty after a short waiting period.

August 24, 2021 – This morning, investors of GPB Automotive Portfolio LP woke up to more worrisome news, as the Wall Street Journal reported that the GPB Capital Holdings LLC, is looking to sell its largest dealership group, Prime Automotive, raising speculation that the GPB Automotive is running out of cash.

The latest news follows GPB Automotive’s regulatory filings in May 2021 that disclosed that there was substantial doubt that the business would survive, and July 2021 that disclosed that the Partnership was able to obtain a financing agreement with M&T Bank, but that the Partnership only had sufficient liquidity to meet its financial obligations through July 21, 2022.

In its latest regulatory filing, on August 16, 2021, GPB Automotive disclosed that it might sell dealerships to provide operational liquidity.  According to the Wall Street Journal, such sales may be priced below fair value and go on the book as losses.

On August 13, 2021, a FINRA arbitration panel in New York, New York, ruled in favor of a brokerage customer that invested in GPB Automotive Portfolio LP and GPB Waste Management LP at the recommendation of his financial advisor at Hightower Securities, LLC.

The arbitration panel ordered Hightower Securities, LLC to refund $163,201 to the customer in exchange for a return of the limited partnership interests, essentially making the customer whole. The customer had purchased the limited partnership interests for $170,000 and had previously received $6,799 from the investments as a return of capital.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is investigating claims on behalf of defrauded investors who were victims in the GPB funds scheme. The GPB funds were marketed to independent broker-dealers and investment advisers who would, in turn, sell the GPB funds to their retail investors.

On Friday, May 14, 2021, GPB Capital Holdings LLC (“GPB Capital”), a private equity firm based in New York, registered some units in its GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP (“GPB Automotive”) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  As part of its filing, GPB Automotive disclosed that it had substantial doubt of its ability to continue operations.  Specifically, GPB Automotive made the following risk factor disclosures to investors and potential investors:

  • We have determined that there is substantial doubt as to our ability to continue as a going concern, due to the expiration of the credit facility for the majority of our dealerships within 12 months, as well as certain other factors. Our inability to extend the maturity of our credit facility, or replace the credit facility, prior to its maturity in February 2022 would materially adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and business operations.
  • We may not have adequate funds to complete future capital improvement programs or to make additional acquisitions.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating MSC – BD, LLC, and veteran stockbroker Robert Fehrman for recommending that clients invest in private placement securities issued by GPB Capital.  Mr. Fehrman and MSC – BD, LLC are currently the subject of a customer dispute related to his recommendation of GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP, one of the private placement funds issued by GPB Capital.

The GPB funds, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Bob Fehrman has been registered as a financial consultant with MSC – BD, LLC in Cumming, Georgia, since June 2013.  According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Fehrman is located in Florissant, Missouri.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is currently investigating former Axiom Capital Management, Inc. broker Michael Packman, who reportedly recommended that his customers invest in private placement securities issued by GPB Capital. The GPB notes, which are private securities offerings exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are inherently risky investments.  These investments are suitable only for highly sophisticated investors who understand the risks and can afford a significant monetary loss.  Unfortunately, many brokerage firms and brokers sold the GPB Capital securities to retirees and unsophisticated investors because they paid a high up-front commission.

Mr. Packman was a broker at Axiom Capital Management, Inc. in Westbury, New York, from May 2015 to March 2018. Before he joined Axiom Capital Management, Inc. in 2018, he was associated with several disreputable brokerage firms, including Financial West Group and Continental Broker-Dealer Corp., both of which were expelled from the industry by FINRA.

Iorio Altamirano LLP is also investigating the sales practices and due diligence of Axiom Capital Management, Inc. related to its sale of GPB Capital funds.   It is believed, according to reports, that Axiom Capital Management, Inc. has been subjected to numerous lawsuits from customers in the form of FINRA securities arbitration claims to recover investment losses.

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