SEC Charges Life Settlement Firm Pacific West Capital Group

On April 7, 2015 the SEC charged Los Angeles-based Pacific West Capital Group, Inc. and its owner Andrew Calhoun with fraud in the sale of “life settlement” investments.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that since 2004, Pacific West and Calhoun raised nearly $100 million from life settlement investors. Since at least 2012, Pacific West and Calhoun are alleged to have defrauded investors by using proceeds from the sale of new life settlements to continue funding life settlement investments sold years earlier. The complaint alleges that Pacific West Capital Group and Calhoun did not disclose this practice to investors, and attempted to make the life settlement investments they were selling appear successful when in fact, Pacific West Capital Group had used up the primary reserves to pay premiums on those policies.

According to the complaint, Pacific West and Calhoun also made false and misleading statements about the risks of investing in life settlements, including the risk of investors having to make increased premium payments as the insured people covered by the contract lived longer than Pacific West and Calhoun anticipated. Pacific West and Calhoun also are alleged to have misled investors about annual returns.

The above allegations contained in the SEC’s complaint have not been proven, and the issuance of a complaint represents the SEC’s initiation of a formal proceeding in which findings as to the allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint.

The Law Office of David Liebrader practices exclusively in the field of investment loss recovery. For the past 23 years, we have dedicated our law practice to assisting investors who have been victims of investment fraud via fraudulent and unsuitable investment transactions. During that time we have recovered money for over one thousand individuals, pension plans, trusts and companies. The recoveries we have obtained via judgments, awards and settlements on behalf of our clients exceed $40,000,000.

When investors contact our firm they can expect prompt attention, and a detailed analysis of their issues. Typical claims that we are asked to review involve “unsuitability (where a financial advisor makes investment recommendations that are inconsistent with a customer’s investment objectives), claims for “churning” (where a broker enters into an excessive number of trades for the purpose of generating commissions), claims involving illiquid investments such as private placements (I.e., real estate investment trusts, limited partnerships, equipment leasing and oil and gas drilling programs) as well as claims for violations of state securities laws, which often provide investors remedies like attorney’s fees and interest, if they are successful on the claim.

Since a Supreme Court ruling in the 1980s, most investment related disputes between brokerage firms and their customers have been filed in an arbitration forum hosted by FINRA Dispute Resolution. FINRA, along with the SEC, serves as a securities industry “watchdog” and regulator. Most brokerage firms require their clients to sign binding arbitration agreements, mandating that any disputes between them be arbitrated at FINRA.

Investors pursuing claims at FINRA typically advance claims related to suitability. FINRA rules require that all registered representatives make suitable investment recommendations to their clients. Other claims are based on negligence or breach of fiduciary duty, while another category includes claims based on misrepresentations and fraud. Most claims filed with FINRA are resolved within 15 months, and oftentimes, the cases are resolved via settlement or mediation in under a year.

FINRA’s rules require that all investment recommendations made by licensed financial advisors be suitable in light of a customer’s needs, objectives and risk tolerance. In addition, all registered representatives are required to be properly supervised, with periodic inspections and reviews by qualified supervisors, whose job it is to vigorously investigate suspicions of wrongdoing (red flags).

If you suspect that you have been the victim of investment fraud, or had a financial advisor recommend unsuitable investments to you, call us today for a free, confidential consultation at (702) 380-3131.