SIPC: INDIANA BANKRUPTCY JUDGE CLEARS WAY FOR SIPC TO HELP 30 INVESTORS RECOVER UP TO $2 MILLION
SOUTH BEND, IN. - December 19, 2001 - Thirty victims of the Spectrum investment fraud scheme will be removed from legal limbo and recover a total of $1.6 million-$2 million as a result of the decision today by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harry C. Dees, Jr. to approve a motion by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) to consolidate the proceedings against Spectrum Investment Services, Inc., and three related entities.
In the absence of today's action, Spectrum's investment advisor service customers might not have been eligible for the protections of SIPC, which maintains a special reserve fund authorized by Congress to help investors at bankrupt brokerage firms. In January 2001, SIPC stepped in to take over Spectrum Investment Services, Inc., after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission found irregular activities. That same month, Spectrum President Mary Lou Sanders was charged in federal court by the United States with criminal activities related to Spectrum Investment Services, Inc. Ms. Sanders, who fled the U.S., is being sought by the FBI as an international fugitive.
Sanders is believed to have misappropriated as much as $3.5 million under the auspices of four interlocked entities. As of November 30, 2001, SIPC had processed a total of 167 claims from investors. Almost all of the claims were resolved swiftly. However, a total of 30 Spectrum investors who had dealt with Sanders through Spectrum's unlicensed investment advisory affiliate were in a "gray area" that could have been construed as falling outside of the scope of SIPC's protections designed specifically for brokerage firm customers. The SIPC-requested consolidation of the four Spectrum entities will free up between $1.6 million and $2 million for the Spectrum investment advisory clients.
The Spectrum case follows closely on the heels of a record-setting case handled by SIPC. On October 2, 2001, SIPC announced a record payment of $177 million to restore stocks and cash to 175,000 investors due to a default by MJK Clearing, Inc. MJK Clearing, Inc., is the parent company of Miller Johnson Steichen Kinnard, Inc., a full-service brokerage firm headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with 400 investment executives in eight states.
From its creation by Congress in 1970 through December 2000, SIPC advanced $391 million in order to make possible the recovery of $3.8 billion in assets for an estimated 443,000 investors. SIPC estimates that more than 99 percent of eligible investors have been made whole in the failed brokerage firm cases that it has handled to date.
SIPC is an important part of the overall system of investor protection in the United States. While a number of federal, self-regulatory and state securities agencies deal with cases of investment fraud, SIPC’s focus is both different and narrow: Restoring funds to investors with assets in the hands of bankrupt and otherwise financially troubled brokerage firms. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation was not chartered by Congress to combat fraud.
SIPC either acts as trustee or works with an independent court-appointed trustee in a fraud case to recover funds. The statute that created SIPC rules provides that customers of a failed brokerage firm receive all non-negotiable securities that are already registered in their names or in the process of being registered. At the same time, funds from the SIPC reserve are available to satisfy the remaining claims of each customer up to a maximum of $500,000. This figure includes a maximum of $100,000 on claims for cash.
Recovered funds are used to pay investors whose claims exceed SIPC’s protection limit of $500,000. SIPC often draws down its reserve to aid investors. Recovered funds also are used to replenish SIPC’s reserve in the event that the reserve is tapped in the early stages of a liquidation proceeding.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Ailis Aaron, The Hastings Group,
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