The possibility that Morgan Keegan will face civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is welcome news for thousands of investors who have filed arbitration claims against the Memphis-based brokerage for losses in a group of collapsed bond funds.
Regions Financial Corp., the parent company of Morgan Keegan, announced in early July it had received a Wells Notice from the SEC for possible violations of securities laws involving certain mutual funds. The SEC sends a Well Notice to people or firms as a way to formally alert them to the possibility that enforcement action will be brought against them.
For investors, the Wells Notice could be a boon to their legal cases against Morgan Keegan. According to a July 31 article in the Wall Street Journal, securities arbitrators may now be more inclined to order Morgan Keegan to provide investors with copies of certain documents that could assist in their claims.
“That notification has to influence arbitrations when the issue of discovery of regulatory documents comes up,” said Steven Caruso, a New York-based attorney with Maddox Hargett & Caruso, in the Wall Street Journal.
Even though the Wells Notice did not specifically name the funds in question, the SEC said they were managed by Morgan Asset Management Inc., which is part of Morgan Keegan. Seven former Morgan Keegan funds suffered massive financial losses in 2007 and 2008 because of their exposure to risky subprime securities and even more risky collateralized debt obligations.
Between March 31, 2007, and March 31, 2008, losses in the RMK funds totaled more than $2 billion.
In July 2008, Regions transferred management of several of the RMK funds in question to New York-based Hyperion Brookfield Asset Management.