A warning from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the form of a Wells Notice could have a direct impact on how Charles Schwab addresses current and future lawsuits and arbitration claims by investors who suffered losses in the Schwab YieldPlus Funds.
The San Francisco-based brokerage acknowledged earlier this week that it had received the SEC’s Well Notice, which outlined possible civil enforcement actions against Schwab Investments, Charles Schwab Investment Management, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and the president of the YieldPlus funds for alleged violations of securities laws in connection to the two fixed-income mutual funds.
Companies that receive Well Notices are given a chance to respond to the SEC’s allegations before the commission decides whether to approve an enforcement action. The notice is not a formal allegation or finding of wrongdoing.
On Aug. 21, a California federal court certified an investor lawsuit involving the YieldPlus Fund Select Shares and YieldPlus Investor Shares as a class action. As reported Oct. 15 in an article by Investment News, the Oct. 14 Wells Notice plus other various supporting documents could very well serve as a road map for the class action lawsuit, which some analysts and attorneys contend dwarfs individual arbitrations by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.
Regardless of the outcome of the SEC’s investigation, Schwab YieldPlus investors are under a tight deadline to decide whether to stay in the class-action lawsuit or “opt out” if they wish to file an individual arbitration claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). (Individuals are generally in a class action unless they formally ask to be excluded.)
The deadline to submit opt-out requests is Monday Dec. 28, 2009. In addition, investors must:
•Provide a written statement requesting exclusion from the Schwab YieldPlus class-action lawsuit;
•Sign and date the request and include your mailing address; and
•Ensure the written request is received by the Notice Administrator no later than Dec. 28, 2009. The address to mail the opt-out request is: Schwab Corp. Secs. Litigation Exclusion, c/o Gilardi & Co. LLC, P.O. Box 808061, Petaluma, CA 94975-8061.
Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1, the date on which the most current available decision with FINRA is posted, Schwab has lost seven out of 10 YieldPlus FINRA arbitration cases, according to the Investment News article.
We are very interested in your situation with Schwab YieldPlus. Leave us a message in the comment box or the Contact Us form. We want to counsel you on your legal options.