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FINRA issued an award in the arbitration between claimants Joseph R. Ritz, Susan F. Ritz and respondents Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (#CRD 149777) and Charles Alan Correal (CRD# 1366202).

According to the award documentation, the claimants asserted claims for breach of fiduciary duty, violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, suitability, professional negligence, breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, failure to supervise  and vicarious liability by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Charles Alan Correal.

The claimants allege that respondents invested their funds in risky and unsuitable energy stocks, including Seadrill, Ltd., Copano Energy LLC, and Interoil.

In early 2016, oil prices bottomed out and a wave of North American oil producers continued to file bankruptcies at record and alarming rates.  Where are we a year later?  Oil prices have increased, generally the result of an agreement by OPEC members to reduce output, which based on longstanding distrust among its members, may change at any time.  With potential uncertainty amidst, the formalities of Brexit, and President-Elect Donald Trump taking the reins as President on January 20, 2017, the world is unpredictable!

The market’s overall appreciation more than likely positively impacted your overall investment portfolio in 2016, unless of course you happen to own securities (i.e. Boeing or Ford) that were subject to one of Trump’s famous tweets.  However, if you were an investor of securities linked to the oil, gas and energy sector in the past couple of years, chances are your account statements still show that many of these securities lost a substantial portion or their entire value of your principal.

In many investments, your principal investment is gone, and depending whether these investments were Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”), you have or very soon will receive a K-1 indicating that you may still owe additional taxes – yes, on that same investment that you lost all or most of your principal.  This has left many investors simmering!

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) permanently barred former Moloney Securities Co., Inc. (CRD# 38535) broker John R. McKinstry (CRD# 1012658) after he failed to continue to provide information and documents regarding allegations against him that he unsuitably recommended oil and gas securities to his customers.

In total, McKinstry has 15 misconduct disclosures on his FINRA BrokerCheck report.  Nine of the 15 have come in the past year, and most of them are FINRA arbitration complaints alleging unsuitable recommendations in oil and gas securities.

In August 2015, McKinstry was discharged from Moloney after the firm conducted an internal review concerning customer complaints and a FINRA cause exam.

Our lawyers are investigating Boca Raton, Florida-based Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (CRD# 705) senior vice president Martin L. Waldman (CRD# 4566228), also known as “Skip,” for unsuitable recommendations in oil and gas securities.

Waldman has been in the industry for 13 years and has 6 disclosures on his FINRA BrokerCheck report.  He currently has a FINRA arbitration pending that alleges unauthorized trading and damages in the amount $121,000.

Our lawyers have filed claims against Raymond James for oil and gas losses for investors who have collectively lost thousands of dollars investing in risky, unsuitable oil and gas securities.  In those instances, the investor lost much of the initial investment after a Raymond James broker unsuitably recommended and overconcentrated the investor’s funds in the oil, gas, and energy sector.

Silver Law Group, The Law Firm of David R. Chase, P.A., and Ciklin, Lubitz & O’Connell are continuing their investigation in the suitability of recommendations made by numerous financial advisors and brokerage firms to purchase risky oil and gas securities.

The price of oil has historically been volatile, risky, and difficult to predict. In turn, securities reliant on the commodity’s favorable pricing are highly risky and prone to huge swings in value depending on the price of oil. Such risky investments include but are not limited to:

• Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs)

Our lawyers have filed a FINRA arbitration claim against Raymond James on behalf of an aggrieved investor who lost thousands of dollars investing in risky oil and gas securities.

In order to handle the numerous claims of aggrieved investors who lost money in the risky oil and gas market, Silver Law Group has teamed up with attorneys at The Law Firm of David R. Chase, P.A. and Ciklin, Lubitz & O’Connell. The firms combined experience and resources will better-assist in producing the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Our client lost much of their investment after a Raymond James broker unsuitably recommended and overconcentrated our client’s funds in oil and gas securities.

Recent articles and reports reveal 90 companies with over $66.5 billion in total debt have defaulted on bonds issued to investors just like you. Some of these companies include well-known companies such as Linn Energy, Linn Co., Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Sandridge Energy and many others that were highly touted by large Wall Street firms just a few years ago.

In an article published earlier today in USA Today, there is a report that corporate bond defaults in the United States are expected to increase with a 30% jump predicted in bond defaults in the year to come.

Although this is not quite on par with the widespread losses incurred by investors in 2008-2009 during the financial crisis the investors who are experiencing these losses are no less impacted when it results in lost principal and it negatively impacts their financial security.

Our lawyers are investigating oil and gas securities fraud claims against Wells Fargo broker John B. Leonard (CRD# 2113842).

According to Leonard’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) BrokerCheck report, his 25 years in the securities industry has been relatively clean.  But in the past three months, two customers have filed FINRA arbitration complaints against him, alleging unsuitable recommendations in the oil and gas industry totaling close to $300,000.  The two complaints are currently pending.

While many brokers and brokerage firms have unsuitably recommended oil and gas securities, Wells Fargo has been accumulating many complaints recently.  Our firms have previously investigated Irvine, California Wells Fargo brokers Charles B. Lynch Jr. (CRD# 3004877) and Charles H. Frieda (CRD# 5502319).  The brokers have a combined 60 misconduct disclosures on their FINRA BrokerCheck reports, all but two coming in the last two years and a significant majority alleging unsuitable recommendations and overconcentration in the oil and gas industry.

The Securities Arbitration and Investment Litigation Lawyers at the Silver Law Group, Law Office of David Chase, LLC and Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell (www.oilgasfinraarbitration.com) are currently investigating cases relating to investments in SunEdison, Inc. (SunEdison – Ticker Symbol: SUNE), one of the nation’s largest providers of electricity and renewable energy.

SunEdison filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on April 21, 2016, and on August 3, 2016, announced that it plans to stop making interest payments on behalf of two affiliated companies, TerraForm Global Inc. and TerraForm Power LLC (collectively “SunEdsion’s yieldcos”).  The SunEdison yieldcos intend to contest SunEdison’s decision. In many respects, SunEdison and the SunEdison yieldcos expect business to continue as usual.  Nevertheless, it appears that you, the investor, will be the one who suffers the harm.

In recent years, SunEdison experienced exponential growth and various financial institutions were more than willing to help SunEdison finance its lofty – and some have labeled “aggressive” – growth initiatives.  As a result of SunEdison’s bankruptcy, SunEdison common stock holders will be wiped out and investors holding other SunEdison-linked securities will no doubt certainly feel the pain associated with yet another high-profile bankruptcy in the oil, gas and energy sector.  For example, SunEdison’s corporate neighbor, Peabody Coal, also filed for bankruptcy in mid-April 2016.

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If your investment accounts include stocks, bonds or partnership interests in companies currently or previously operating in the energy sector, particularly those in the oil and gas industries and you have incurred losses or damages as a result of those investments,

At least 50 oil and gas producers in North America have sought bankruptcy protection in the past year.  At least 20 of those are/were publicly traded companies who have stock and bond investors now staring at substantial losses.

While some companies continue to operate as debtors in bankruptcy, where does that leave the individual investors that bought the bonds, stocks, or partnership interests?  For many they are faced with substantial principal losses.  Many investors are finding that the original principal invested is close to worthless.  Some are finding that their dividend or interest income stream has been interrupted.  Others may soon find that a bad situation can become even worse where partnership interests in some Master Limited Partnerships are going through debt restructuring, that process is resulting in potential negative tax consequences for some investors.  Where debt is being forgiven and/or restructured and phantom “income” is attributed some investors find they not only lost their investment, they now have a tax liability to contend with as well.

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