Tag Archives: Master Limited Partnership

Invement losses with John Blakezuniga

John Blakezuniga, formerly of Vanguard Capital, recently entered into a settlement agreement with FINRA regulators, where he agreed to a fine but did not admit or deny fault, concerning alleged fraudulent activity in the portfolios of his investors.  Blakezuniga sometimes goes by the name of John Blake, sometimes by the name John Zuniga, and sometimes by John Blake-Zuniga.

Jeffrey Pederson, PC helps investors recover such losses.  For a free and confidential consultation with a lawyer, please call 1-866-817-0201.

As identified in the FINRA regulatory settlement, referred to as an AWC, between 2007 and 2013, Blakezuniga borrowed $775,000 (which he has not fully repaid) from two firm customers Invest photo 2in violation of the firm’s policy. As a result, Blakezuniga violated NASD Rules 2370 and 21 10 and FINRA Rules 3240 and 2010.

Blakezuniga separately violated FINRA Rule 2010 by falsely answering “no” to a question on the firm’s 2013 annual compliance questionnaire that asked if he had ever borrowed money from a customer.

In addition, from 2010 to 2014, Blakezuniga recommended approximately 1,280 transactions in inverse and inverse leveragedExchange Traded Funds (“nontraditional ETFs”) in 85 customer accounts without a reasonable basis for the recommendations. By doing so, Blakezuniga violated NASD Rule 2310 and FINRA Rules 2111 and 2010.

Borrowing funds from an investor/customer is fraudulent because of the discrepancy in the bargaining power between broker and investor.  The prohibition is codified in NASD and FINRA rules.  NASD Rule 2370 and FINRA Rule 3240′ generally prohibit registered representatives from borrowing money from any customer subject to limited exceptions and in accordance with firm procedures.

Likewise, lacking a reasonable basis for the recommendation of an investment is violative. NASD Rule 2310 and FINRA Rule 21113 require registered representatives to have reasonable grounds for believing that a recommendation is suitable for a customer based upon the customer’s disclosed security holdings and financial situation and needs. A violation ofthese rules also constitutes a violation of FINRA Rule 2010.

Investor Recovery of Breitling Energy Losses

Investors in Breitling Energy may have lost their investment but are not without recourse to recover their losses.  The misdeeds and mismanagement of Breitling Energy are things that the investor’s brokerage should have spotted if sufficient due diligence was done.  Investors seeking more information can call toll-free 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation.

guy in handcuffsThe thinly veiled fraud was recently exposed by the SEC that reasonable investigation should have exposed previously.  The Breitling Energy fraud includes interlocking companies, bad science, fake financials and an massively effective public relations campaign that turned a tech entrepreneur with a shaky record, Breitling CEO Chris Faulkner, into the “Frack Master.”

But the complaint implies that the scheme that took years of planning and execution, but basic components of the fraud were easily discoverable, such as the background of Faulkner and the tens of millions of dollars stolen by Faulkner.

The SEC account starts in 2009 when Faulkner ran a website data hosting company. At that point, “he had never managed, run, operated, or even worked in an oil-and-gas business.”

Despite this, many brokerage firms either ignored this information or failed to uncover such an important piece of information for its investors.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson, PC has helped investors recover losses for the failure of due diligence by securities brokerage firms.  Please call the number above for more information.

For more information on the Breitling Energy fraud see the following link.

SandRidge Energy (SDOC) Losses

 

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson PC is investigating investor losses sustain in SandRidge Energy.  If you have suffered such losses please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free and confidential consultation.

7crude-oil-pumps-power-transmission-elementsSandRidge Energy Inc, an Oklahoma City-based oil and gas exploration and production company, declared bankruptcy on May 16, 2016.

This Chapter 11 bankruptcy ads SandRidge to the waive of energy companies filing for bankruptcy in 2016.

This bankruptcy by SandRidge will likely leave thousands of investors in Sandridge with substantial losses.  While Sandridge was always a highly speculative investment, our investigation reveals that the investment was commonly and inappropriately sold to those seeking or needing a stable, moderate risk investment.  As such, many investors purchased Sandridge as part of a moderate to low risk or retirement planning portfolio.  These people have recourse for their losses.

Such sale of unsuitable investments can be either negligence or fraud.  Speculative investments like SandRidge can pay a higher commission to brokers, giving brokers an inappropriate incentive to place investors in higher risk investments than is suitable.  Brokers can also recklessly put investors in high-risk investments to tout higher returns while failing to notify of the higher risk.  Recourse is generally obtained through the filing for arbitration with FINRA, the regulator overseeing brokers.

Additionally, there is an issue of proper investigation by brokerage firms into the claims of SandRidge as to its reserves.   The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a $1.2 million claim in SandRidge Energy Inc.’s bankruptcy case relating the company’s firing of a whistle-blower who alleged the company didn’t accurately report its oil and natural gas reserves.

SandRidge, which first disclosed the investigation in securities filings earlier this year, provided more information in a quarterly filing on Monday. The company said it is cooperating with the investigation. The audit committee of the company’s board of directors has hired an independent law firm to look into the former employee’s
allegations.

SandRidge had received a letter from the attorney of a former employee who alleged inaccurate reporting of oil and natural gas reserves figures in its public filings. The company said 85 percent of those reserves were calculated by an independent petroleum engineering firm.

Jeffrey Pederson has successfully handled such suitability cases for a large numbers of investors in FINRA arbitrations and is looking to help SandRidge investors.  Please call.  Representations handled largely on a contingent fee basis where attorney fees are only paid upon the recovery of losses.

LINN Energy (“LINE”) Loss Recovery

Invest photo 2If you suffered losses in LINN Energy (LINE or LNCO), including tax obligations, you may be entitled to recovery of those losses.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with a lawyer about loss recovery.  We have successfully recovered losses for many Linn Energy investors.  Most representations handled on a contingency basis where attorney fees are not due unless a recovery is received.

LINN Energy, which changed its name to LinnCo, stated on March 16, 2016 that bankruptcy protection through the courts may be unavoidable.  This prediction came true on May 11, 2016 when LINN filed for bankruptcy per Rueters.  This will leave many investors who have invested their life savings in LINN looking to change their retirement plans and their financial outlook. For many of these investors LINN Energy was never a suitable investment, and this fact may give the individuals the right to recover their losses.

While some investors may call it “LINN” and others refer to it as “LINE,” all investors can agree that investors should not be responsible for the losses in LINN Energy to the extent that the investment was procured by fraud or negligence. Brokerages that allow the sale of unsuitable investments are responsible for the ultimate losses sustained by their investors.  Brokers and financial advisors have a duty to only sell suitable investments to investors. To be suitable, the investment must be consistent with the wants and needs of the investor.

LINN Energy is, and has always been, a speculative investment.  Unless you are a speculative investor and could afford to gamble on high risk investments LINN Energy was unsuitable for you. The list of people for whom LINN would be unsuitable and entitled to reimbursement includes, but is not limited to, any one of the following:  conservative to moderate investors; investors reliant upon investments for income; individuals reliant upon their savings; unsophisticated investors; individuals not understanding the risks of limited partnerships; individuals who could not afford to risk the amounts invested in LINN: and individuals who would have difficulty re-earning the funds invested in LINN if the investment were completely lost.

The recommendation to invest in LINN can be the result of either negligence or fraud.  Speculative investments often pay a higher commission and give brokers incentive to recommend investments that are not in the best interest of their investors.  Irrespective, the broker’s or financial advisor’s employer is responsible for losses as the result of unsuitable recommendations.

379335_544495705568117_1587447150_nThe risk surrounding LINN are many and not just from the falling oil market.  The potential tax consequences for its investors, referred to as CODI, if LINN were to restructure some of its debt will also impact the value of the investment. When debt is restructured, debt that is forgiven is, for tax purpose, treated as income. Since LINN is an LLC, the tax liability belongs to the investors holding Linn shares.  This will further increase the losses of those holding LINN shares if they must pay tax on the income of LINN.

LLCs are popular because income is only taxed once, unlike regular corporations where the income of the corporation is taxed and the resulting dividends are also taxed.  While the single taxation is popular because it means less taxation of income when things are good, the downside is that investors are responsible for the tax the LLC cannot pay when things are bad.  That can accelerate the decline of an LLC when industry challenges, such as a decrease in the price of oil, occur.

By some estimates, investors will be responsible for paying CODI of approximately $24 per share in tax liability to the IRS even if they no longer hold the shares.  Even though the shares may be worthless.  So say an investor purchase $40,000 worth of the investment when Linn was trading at $40 per share, that individual may have to pay the IRS $24,000 for the tax liability of Linn.

Further, Linn offered investors the opportunity to trade in their shares for shares that protected7crude-oil-pumps-power-transmission-elements investors from such liability, but Linn and the brokers selling Linn gave investors very little and we believe insufficient notice to investors concerning the opportunity to make the transition and the severe consequence if the transition was not elected.  The deadline to exchange LINE units expired on August 1, 2016. Forbes estimates that only 35% of the Linn investors successfully made this switch to avoid payment to the IRS.  The other 65% will have to pay for Linn’s mismanagement beyond the extent they invested in Linn.

On August 2, 2016, Linn issued the following statement concerning the exchange period:

“The subsequent offering period for the Exchange Offer expired at 12:00 midnight (New York City time) on Monday, August 1, 2016 [...] a total of 19,954,774 LINN units were validly tendered during the subsequent offering period and an aggregate of 123,909,317 LINN units (including LINN units accepted for exchange during the initial offering period), representing approximately 35% of LINN’s issued and outstanding units, were validly tendered and not validly withdrawn pursuant to the Exchange Offer and have been accepted by LinnCo for exchange. “

This is all in addition to the likely losses that shareholders would feel from that restructuring and oil prices that may not rise above $40 per barrel in the near future. LINN and LINCO investments likely became worthless on May 11, 2016.  On that date, LINN filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection per Rueters.

Please call for more information. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Pederson has represented investors with suitability claims in FINRA arbitrations across the country.  Most representations done on a contingency basis.

Other liability issues exist as to certain securities brokerages pushing this investment even when it became clear that the investment was troubled.  For example, Raymond James pushed LINE to its brokers to sell to all investors, upon information and belief.  Additionally, Raymond James kept strong ratings on LINE as late as 2016.

For a detailed description on the rise and fall of Linn:  http://www.oilandgas360.com/rise-fall-linn-energy/

For a great article on the mess investors will be facing, along with an estimate of tax liability Linn investors will face:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2016/05/19/oil-bankruptcies-continue-linn-energy-reorg-wont-be-pretty/#35f687375edc .

MLP Losses

Oil StockWe are investigating losses sustained by investors in Master Limited Partnerships (“MLP”).  This includes all MLP investments including but not limited to UBS ETRACS, Enbridge Energy Partners,  EV Enterprise Partners, and Eagle Rock Energy Partners.  If you have suffered such losses please call toll-free 1-866-817-0201.

MLPs are sometimes referred to as “SSPs” and other names.  There are limited types of investors to whom such investments could be legally sold.  Selling such high-commissioned investments when they contradict the objectives or needs of an investor, making them “unsuitable” for certain investors, is a form of fraud. In August 2015, the SEC conducted an examination of firms selling MLPs.

Among other things, the SEC regulatory examinations revealed several significant deficiencies in the areas of suitability and supervision with respect to all of the examined firms’ recommendations and sales of MLPs to retail investors. Specifically, all of the examined firms: “Failed to maintain and/or enforce adequate controls relating to determining the suitability of MLP recommendations;” and “Failed to conduct both compliance and supervisory reviews of registered representatives’ (“representatives”) determinations of customer suitability in the MLPs, as required by their internal controls.”

MLPs have been increasingly marketed to retail investors, who have been interested in generating income in the low-yield interest-rate environment that has persisted since the financial crisis.  Additionally, MLPs may offer attractive attributes such as partial or full “principal protection” or exposure to a particular asset class.

MLPs often provide for payments determined by reference to other assets or indices and may be more complex than a simple debt instrument with a stated interest rate.  However, these investments have always been known to carry a high degree of risk. A central aspect of a broker-dealer’s duty of fair dealing is the suitability obligation, which generally requires a broker-dealer to make recommendations that are consistent with the best interests of its customer.  So investments must be of the character and have the level of risk that is consistent with these wants and needs.  This “suitability” obligation is a requirement under the  antifraud provisions of the state and federal securities laws, and also requirement of a brokerage firm’s membership in FINRA.  

FINRA also requires brokerages to supervise their representatives, and the Exchange Act, the federal securities law, permits the SEC to sanction broker-dealers who fail reasonably to supervise, with a view to preventing violations of the state and federal securities laws by a person subject to their supervision.  In addition, FINRA has released guidance to help assess the adequacy of controls with respect to MLPs and complex products that members should include in their supervisory and compliance procedures.

For more information on MLPs containing LINN Energy, also known as LINE, see the following: www.jpedersonlaw.com/blog/linn-energy-losses/

Jeffrey Pederson has represented investors in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut , Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, in FINRA arbitration actions against securities brokerage firms for unsuitable investments.  Please call for a confidential and free consultation.

 

Oil or Gas Investment Losses

Oil Stock IIJeffrey Pederson, P.C. helps investors determine if they have a right to recover investment losses in oil, gas or other investments.  Please call 1-866-817-0201 toll-free for a free consultation.

In 2016, oil dropped to a price below $30 a barrel.  Many investors simply ignore their losses, believing that the loss is simply due to the market, without knowing that they may be entitled to a recovery.  Such individuals unnecessarily let their plans for retirement or other future plans go unfulfilled because of the financial loss they sustained.

Since late 2014, countless oil, gas and other energy companies have filed for bankruptcy.  Many investors in these companies were illegally sold these investments by brokerage firms motivated by commissions paid by the investments.  Such investments can take many forms including, but not limited to, Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs), common stock, notes, bonds, mutual funds, and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

We are currently investigating investments into the following energy companies:Oil Stock

American Eagle, BPZ, Buccaneer, Climax Energy, Duer Wagner, Hart Resources, Hercules Offshore, Linn Energy, Milagro Oil and Gas, Petrobras, Quicksilver Resources, Sabine, Samson Resources, Sandridge Energy, Southern Pacific, Walter Energy and WBH Energy.

Oil and gas limited partnership losses can do more than take away the hard earned principal of investors, it can also create tax liabilities that the investor was not expecting.  The result is that the investor could lose more than invested.  The following link discusses the risks that in more detail.

Jeffrey Pederson has represented investors in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut , Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, in FINRA arbitration actions against securities brokerage firms for unsuitable investments.  Please call for a confidential and free consultation.