WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has sanctioned an additional eight firms and 10 individuals, and ordered restitution totaling more than $3.2 million, for selling interests in private placement offerings without having a reasonable basis for recommending the securities. The firms and individuals sold interests in several high-risk private placements, including those issued by Provident Royalties, LLC, Medical Capital Holdings, Inc. and DBSI, Inc., which ultimately failed, causing significant investor losses.
FINRA previously announced that it sanctioned two firms and seven individuals in April 2011 for selling interests in private placements without conducting a reasonable investigation.
FINRA found that the broker-dealers did not have adequate supervisory systems in place to identify and understand the inherent risks of these offerings and, as a result, many of the firms failed to conduct adequate due diligence of these offerings. In addition, some of the firms did not have reasonable grounds to believe that the private placements were suitable for any of their customers. Additionally, the sanctioned principals did not have reasonable grounds to allow the firms' registered representatives to continue selling the offerings, despite the numerous "red flags" that existed regarding the private placements.
Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, "FINRA continues to look closely at sales of private placements to determine whether the selling firms are fulfilling their responsibilities to customers. These actions reinforce that any firm or individual who fails to conduct reasonable investigations of these offerings, especially in light of multiple red flags, will not be allowed to shift all the responsibility to the issuers of the fraudulent private placements."
FINRA imposed sanctions against the following firms and individuals for failing to conduct a reasonable investigation or for failing to enforce procedures with respect to the sale of private placements offered by Provident Royalties, LLC, Medical Capital Holdings, Inc. or DBSI, Inc.:
From 2001 through 2009, Medical Capital Holdings, a medical receivables financing company based in Anaheim, CA, raised approximately $2.2 billion from over 20,000 investors through nine private placement offerings of promissory notes. Medical Capital made interest and principal payments on its promissory notes until July 2008, when it began experiencing liquidity problems and stopped making payments on notes sold in two of its earlier offerings. Nevertheless, Medical Capital proceeded with its last offering, Medical Provider Funding Corporation VI, offered through an August 2008 private placement memorandum. In July 2009, the SEC filed a civil injunctive action in federal district court in which it sought, and was granted, a preliminary injunction to stop all Medical Capital sales. The court appointed a receiver to gather and conduct an inventory of Medical Capital's remaining assets. The SEC action is pending.
From September 2006 through January 2009, Provident Asset Management, LLC, marketed and sold preferred stock and limited partnership interests in a series of 23 private placements offered by an affiliated issuer, Provident Royalties. The Provident offerings were sold to customers through more than 50 retail broker-dealers nationwide and raised approximately $485 million from over 7,700 investors. Although a portion of the proceeds of Provident Royalties' offerings was used for the acquisition and development of oil and gas exploration and development activities, millions of dollars of investors' funds were transferred from the later offerings' bank accounts to the Provident operating account in the form of undisclosed and undocumented loans, and were used to pay dividends and returns of capital to investors in the earlier offerings, without informing investors of that fact. In July 2009, the SEC filed a civil injunctive action in the Northern District of Texas naming Provident and others for violations of the federal securities laws. The Court granted the SEC's request for a temporary restraining order, an emergency asset freeze and appointment of a receiver to take control of Provident and preserve the assets for the benefit of the defrauded investors. The SEC action is pending. On March 18, 2010, FINRA announced that it had expelled Provident Asset Management, LLC, a Dallas-based broker-dealer, for marketing a series of fraudulent private placements offered by its affiliate, Provident Royalties, LLC.
In concluding these settlements, the firms and individuals neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2010, members of the public used this service to conduct 17.2 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA's Disciplinary Actions Online database.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing and enforcing rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.
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