Articles Tagged with Securities and Exchange Commission

Energy 11, L.P. is an illiquid, non-traded limited partnership sold as private placement security exclusively by broker-dealer David Lerner Associates, Inc. The limited partnership invests in the oil, gas, and energy sector, which has been extremely volatile the past several years.  Energy 11 was not suitable for most conservative or retired investors.

On November 5, 2011, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Energy 11 GP, LLC, the general partner of Energy 11, L.P. (“Energy 11”), sent a letter to investors of Energy 11 notifying them that partial distributions would resume after a nearly two-year hiatus. The amount of the distribution will be 50% of the regular monthly distribution.

In March 2020, Energy 11 suspended monthly distributions to its limited partners as the partnership took on massive debt.  Unbeknownst to many investors, the distributions were merely a return of the limited partner’s original capital investment, not a dividend.   Energy 11 currently owes 21 months of unpaid distributions to its limited partners, totaling approximately $42 million.

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.

David Gentile, the disgraced founder of GPB Capital Holdings LLC, who is facing criminal and civil fraud charges, is seeking to obtain millions of dollars from GPB.  Despite being accused of running a Ponzi-like scheme when he was running GPB Capital, Mr. Gentile is asking for court-supervised mediation to obtain a distribution of more than $5 million to cover his personal tax liability from last year.  Meanwhile, limited partners of GPB Capital private placement funds, such as GPB Automotive Portfolio LP, have not received distributions since 2019.  Worse, their investments remain illiquid, as there is no secondary market to sell their units.

Mr. Gentile claims to be “entitled to distributions” under the private equity firm’s operating agreements.  He also claims that GPB Capital and its funds, including GPB Holdings, LP / GPB Holdings Qualified, LP, GPB Automotive Portfolio, LP, GPB Holdings II, LP, and GPB Waste Management, LP, are responsible for  paying his legal fees. He is essentially asking investors who have been defrauded to pay his legal fees to defend him against numerous allegations of wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) argue that Mr. Gentile’s request should be denied because he does not qualify for mediation according to rules issued by the court.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced a whistleblower award of roughly $36 million to a whistleblower that provided information to the SEC on an illegal scheme. The information led to successful regulatory enforcement actions by the SEC and another federal agency.

In total, $161 million has been awarded to whistleblowers this month.  On September 17, 2021, the SEC announced an award of $11.5 million to two whistleblowers.  On September 15, 2021, the SEC announced two awards totaling $114 million.  That award marked a milestone for the SEC’s 10-year-old whistleblower program, as it put the total amount of awards issued to over $1 billion.

In total, the SEC has awarded over $1.1 billion to 214 individuals since the whistleblower program became effective in August 2011. The awards are paid out of an investor protection fund established by Congress financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. Money is not taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.

On September 15, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced whistleblower awards of roughly $110 million and $4 million to two whistleblowers.   With these awards, the SEC has issued more than $1 billion to 207 whistleblowers, ten years after the SECs Whistleblower Program became effective.  The program has issued a whopping $500 million in the fiscal year 2021 alone.

In the SEC’s press release, SEC Chair Gary Gensler issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement underscores the important role that whistleblowers play in helping the SEC detect, investigate, and prosecute potential violations of the securities laws. The assistance that whistleblowers provide is crucial to the SEC’s ability to enforce the rules of the road for our capital markets.

On September 1, 2021, Robinhood ($Hood) filed its first amendment to its Form S-1 Registration Statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

The public filing, which amends the registration statement that Robinhood filed in connection with its July 2021 initial public offering (IPO), discloses that the SEC’s Division of Examinations and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) have submitted inquires to Robinhood related to whether any employee executed trades in certain securities, including GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc., before the public announcement that Robinhood would restrict trading in those securities on January 28, 2021.

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, Robinhood designated specific stocks “position closing only,” restricting its customers from purchasing additional shares in those stocks.  The targeted stocks included GameStop (NYSE: GME), AMC (NYSE: AMC), Blackberry (NYSE: BB), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Koss Corporation (NYSE: KOSS), and Express, Inc. (NYSE: EXPR).

On August 27, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced whistleblower awards of roughly $2.6 million to five whistleblowers in three separate regulatory enforcement proceedings.  In total, over $16 million has been awarded to SEC whistleblowers this month.

In the first regulatory enforcement proceeding, a whistleblower was awarded approximately $1.2 million for providing the regulator with independent analysis based upon a complex algorithm the whistleblower developed and applied to publicly available data.  The information was valuable to the SEC and saved the agency time and resources.

In the second SEC enforcement proceeding, more than $1 million was awarded to three compliance personnel whose information led to a successful regulatory enforcement action.   The whistleblower that received the highest award provided “extraordinary assistance and comprehensive information,” according to the SEC’s press release.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has barred stockbroker Donald Fowler from the securities industry.  Mr. Fowler consented to the suspension after FINRA alleged that from December 2014 through December 2018, while associated with Worden Capital Management LLC, Mr. Fowler churned and excessively traded four customers’ accounts in violation of FINRA Rules 2111 and 2010.  As a result of churning and excessive trading, the customers incurred high commissions and fees, and significant realized investment losses.

Customers of Mr. Fowler or Worden Capital Management LLC should consult with a securities arbitration law firm.  If you or a loved one were a customer of Donald Fowler or Worden Capital Management LLC, contact  New York securities arbitration law firm Iorio Altamirano LLP for a free and confidential consultation and review of your legal rights.

Iorio Altamirano LLP represents investors nationwide that have disputes with their financial advisors or brokerage firms, such as Worden Capital Management LLC.

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.

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