A Platinum Exchange with the SEC – Civil Enforcement Case v. Criminal Case

Platinum Will Get SEC Docs While Criminal Case Advances

Law360, New York (July 10, 2017, 2:42 PM EDT) — A New York federal judge paused a civil enforcement case against the hedge fund Platinum Partners on Friday at the request of prosecutors while a related criminal case goes forward, rejecting complaints by several defendants that they would be deprived of the chance to learn about the government’s case against them.

As often happens, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s case against Platinum and executives accused of playing a role in a scheme to inflate the value of its investments was stayed for a criminal prosecution. All but two of the defendants asked for discovery to continue anyway, but U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry said even limited document exchanges would threaten the defendants’ right against self-incrimination.

Besides, the judge’s order said, federal prosecutors have committed to turning over materials they get from the SEC, which will allow the defendants to prepare for the civil case during the criminal case. So far, she noted, government lawyers said they’ve turned over 13.5 million documents, with more to come.

“In effect, the only discovery that will not be had in this civil matter is ‘testimonial’ type discovery, such as depositions, as proposed by [several of the] defendants,” the judge wrote. “Opposing defendants can hardly be heard to complain that they will be deprived of discovery in this civil matter.”

The pending decision was mentioned briefly at a hearing Friday where the main item was the judge’s decision to sack the SEC’s receiver, Bart Schwartz of Guidepost Solutions LLC, after concluding that he improperly transferred millions from an escrow account to fund an investment the feds called “risky.”

In the underlying case, prosecutors and the government litigators accuse Platinum of covering up a liquidity crisis at one of its investment funds and lying to lenders to Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC, a drilling company it owned, about the company’s health. Managers hid the hedge fund’s troubles until it filed for bankruptcy last year.

Kevin O’Brien of Ford O’Brien LLP, whose client Joseph Sanfilippo was a chief financial officer at one of Platinum’s funds, said Monday that the order was good news. Even though the case was stayed, he said, it was in some sense “only partial” because the defendants would still receive SEC documents.

……. To obtain the document from it’s original forum see http://www.law360.com

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Platinum Management NY LLC et al., case number 1:16-cv-06848, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

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A Platinum Receiver – The Filings so Far and the Connections to be Made

On December 19, 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced the indictments of seven individuals who were then or were previously associated with Platinum Partners.  The same day, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the same individuals, along with certain Platinum corporate entities.  Together with its complaint, the SEC asked the Court to appoint a Receiver over several Platinum entities affiliated with Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Master Fund LP and Platinum Partners Liquid Opportunity Master Fund LP.  The Court appointed Bart M. Schwartz as Receiver.  Important filings in these cases are linked below.  This page will be updated regularly.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Filings

A Platinum Array of Victims – Arrests are Not Enough

File photo of rescue crews surrounding Black Elk oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico
Rescue crew surrounds an oil platform operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy which exploded off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, in this November 16, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Sean Gardner/Files

 

Platinum Partners arrests are scant consolation for alleged victims

By Lawrence Delevingne | NEW YORK

When six executives of Platinum Partners, including founder Mark Nordlicht, were arrested on Monday on federal charges of running a more than $1 billion hedge fund fraud, people who had long alleged they were harmed by the New York-based firm felt some vindication.

But the possibility that each defendant might face prison terms has done little to soothe their continued anger over losses that may never be recouped.

One such person is Houston-based energy entrepreneur John Hoffman. In the charges, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged what Hoffman had long believed – that Platinum, with the help of a seventh man also arrested, Jeffrey Shulse, had illegally profited from the failure of Hoffman’s company, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC. 

Hoffman said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he did not expect to recover anything and that his involvement with Platinum had cost him the company he founded and at least $500,000 in legal fees. He also described stress-related health problems and difficulty fundraising for a new energy venture.

Hoffman expressed anger that thousands of Gulf Coast-area families were stiffed: mostly the small businesses that were never paid for work on Black Elk’s oil and gas drilling platforms before it went bankrupt amid lower oil prices and Platinum’s alleged corporate cash grab.

All six Platinum executives pleaded not guilty and an attorney for Shulse told Reuters he plans to do the same. A spokesman for Platinum declined to comment for this article, and the firm has not offered any public comment. A person familiar with Platinum’s thinking told Reuters in April that the firm always acted within the limits of the law despite its aggressive investment approach.

Launched in 2003, Platinum was known as a high-performing hedge fund manager that backed struggling companies and employed esoteric investment strategies such as litigation finance and high-interest consumer loans. (Reuters Special Report: reut.rs/1TRovwx)

The government charges on Monday included allegations of over-valuing assets and misleading clients on the health of the firm. The government demanded that the hedge fund return money that was allegedly illegally taken from clients and Black Elk bondholders, and pay related penalties.

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Chai – Black Elk, Regents Amongst the Most Optionable of Connections

The 18 Cases to Follow – A Thread that Ties Black Elk, Platinum and Optionable, Inc. – oh… and Where’s Bodner?

 

Schmidt v. Nordlicht et al

Filed: December 9, 2016 as 4:2016cv03614
Plaintiff: Richard Schmidt
Defendant: Mark Nordlicht, David Levy, Daniel Small and others
Cause Of Action: Notice of Removal
Manchester Management Company, LLC et al v. Echo Therapeutics, Inc. et al

Filed: November 29, 2016 as 1:2016cv09217
Plaintiff: Manchester Management Company, LLC , Manchester Alpha, L.P. , Jeb Partners, L.P. and others
Defendant: Echo Therapeutics, Inc. , Michael Goldberg , Shepard Goldberg and others
Cause Of Action: m(a) Securities Exchange Act
Romain et al v. Seabrook et al

Filed: October 31, 2016 as 1:2016cv08470
Plaintiff: Elizabeth Ann Romain , Herman Jiminian , Jeanette Feliciano and others
Defendant: Norman Seabrook, Elias Husamudeen , Joseph Bracco and others
Cause Of Action: Racketeering (RICO) Act
Matthews et al. v. Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC et al. We have downloadable decisions or orders for this case

Filed: March 9, 2016 as 4:2016cv00611
Plaintiff: Thomas G. Andrus , WHITE MARLIN ENERGY SERVICES, INC. , Guy E Matthews and others
Defendant: Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, L.L.C. , John G. Hoffman, IRON ISLAND TECHNOLOGIES INC. and others
Cause Of Action: R&R re motions to remand (non-core)
Matthews et al. v. Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC et al.

Filed: November 30, 2015 as 1:2015cv09362
Plaintiff: Thomas G. Andrus , White Marlin Energy Services, Inc. , Guy E. Matthews and others
Defendant: Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC , John G. Hoffman, Iron Island Technologies Inc. and others
Cause Of Action: R&R re motions to remand (non-core)
Bank of Montreal v. Optionable, Inc.

Filed: March 18, 2014 as 14-860
Plaintiff-Counter-Defendant – Appellee: Bank of Montreal
Defendant: Optionable, Inc., MF Global Inc., Edward J. O’Connor and others
Defendant – Appellant: Kevin P. Cassidy
Kalter et al v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company

Filed: August 22, 2013 as 1:2013cv23029
Plaintiff: Mark Nordlicht , Dahlia Kalter
Defendant: Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company
Cause Of Action: Diversity-Notice of Removal
Shutts & Bowen LLP v. Regent Capital Partners, LLC et al

Filed: March 20, 2012 as 1:2012cv21116
Plaintiff: Shutts & Bowen LLP
Defendant: Regent Capital Partners, LLC, Laura Huberfeld, Murray Huberfeld and others
Cause Of Action: Diversity-Breach of Contract
Stettin v. Regents Capital Partners, LLC et al We have downloadable decisions or orders for this case

Filed: December 8, 2011 as 0:2011cv62612
Defendant: Murray Huberfeld, Naomi Bodner, David Bodner and others
Plaintiff: Herbert Stettin
Cause Of Action: Motion for Withdrawal of Reference
Stettin v. Regents Capital Partners, LLC et al

Filed: December 8, 2011 as 0:2011bk00061
Defendant: Regents Capital Partners, LLC, Laura Huberfeld, Murray Huberfeld and others
Plaintiff: Herbert Stettin
Cause Of Action: Motion for Withdrawal of Reference
Discala v. Nordlicht et al

Filed: November 10, 2011 as 9:2011cv81253
Defendant: Platinum Partners, Ari L. Glass, David Bodner and others
Plaintiff: Abraxas J. Discala
Cause Of Action: Diversity-Libel, Assault, Slander
Bank of Montreal v. Optionable, Inc. et al

Filed: August 28, 2009 as 1:2009cv07557
Plaintiff: Bank of Montreal, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Montreal
Defendant: Optionable, Inc., MF Global Inc., Kevin P. Cassidy and others
Cause Of Action: Diversity-Fraud
CMEG Nymex Inc. v. Optionable, Inc. et al

Filed: April 10, 2009 as 1:2009cv03677
Plaintiff: CMEG Nymex Inc.
Defendant: Optionable, Inc., Kevin Cassidy, Pierpoint Capital, Inc. and others
Cause Of Action: Securities Exchange Act
Bock v. Optionable Inc. et al

Filed: June 22, 2007 as 1:2007cv05948
Plaintiff: Stanley T. Bock, Stanley T. Bock, Stanley T. Bock
Defendant: Optionable Inc., Kevin Cassidy, Mark Nordlicht and others
Cause Of Action: Securities Exchange Act
Glaubach v. Optionable Inc. et al

Filed: May 24, 2007 as 1:2007cv04085
Plaintiff: Jonathan Glaubach, Jonathan Glaubach, Jonathan Glaubach and others
Defendant: Optionable Inc., Kevin Cassidy, Mark Nordlicht and others
Cause Of Action: Securities Exchange Act
Peters et al v. Optionable, Inc. et al

Filed: May 17, 2007 as 1:2007cv03877
Plaintiff: Edward Peters, Edward Peters
Defendant: Optionable, Inc., Mark Nordlicht, Kevin P. Cassidy and others
Cause Of Action: Securities Exchange Act
Manowitz v. Optionable Inc. et al

Filed: May 17, 2007 as 7:2007cv03884
Plaintiff: Gerald Manowitz, Gerald Manowitz
Defendant: Optionable Inc., Kevin Cassidy, Edward J. O’Conner and others
Cause Of Action: Securities Exchange Act
Fleiss v. Optionable Inc. et al

Filed: May 11, 2007 as 1:2007cv03753
Plaintiff: Alexander Fleiss, Alexander Fleiss
Defendant: Optionable Inc., Mark Nordlicht, Kevin Cassidy and others
Cause Of Action: Securities Fraud

Platinum and Black Elk – an Explosive Combination

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-platinumpartners-lawsuit-idUSKBN1481BI

U.S. charges Platinum Partners executives with $1 billion fraud

 

Top executives of New York-based hedge fund manager Platinum Partners were arrested on Monday and charged with running an approximately $1 billion fraud that federal prosecutors said became “like a Ponzi scheme” as its largest investments lost much of their value.

Mark Nordlicht, Platinum’s founding partner and chief investment officer, was arrested at his New Rochelle, New York, as federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused him and six others of participating in a pair of schemes to defraud investors.

“The charges relating to these two schemes highlight the brazenness and the breadth of the defendants’ lies and deceit,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers told reporters.

Led by Nordlicht, Platinum, the subject of a Reuters Special Report in April, was known for years for producing exceptionally high returns by taking an usually aggressive approach to investing and fund management. (reut.rs/2h36duU) (reut.rs/1TRovwx)

But a 48-page indictment said since 2012, Nordlicht and four other defendants defrauded investors by overvaluing illiquid assets held by its flagship Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage Fund LP, mostly troubled energy-related investments.

This caused a “severe liquidity crisis” that Platinum at first tried to remedy through high-interest loans between its funds before selectively paying some investors ahead of others, the indictment said.

“So to some extent, there is a Ponzi-esque aspect to this scheme,” Capers said.

Prosecutors said David Levy, Platinum’s co-chief investment officer, and Uri Landesman, the former president of the firm’s signature fund, also participated in the scheme, which prosecutors said allowed Platinum to extract more than $100 million in fees.

Nordlicht, Levy and Jeffrey Shulse, former chief executive officer of Platinum’s majority-owned Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC [BLCELB.UL], also schemed to defraud bondholders of Black Elk, a now-defunct Texas energy company, out of $50 million, prosecutors said.

The indictment said the scheme involved using a group of reinsurance companies called Beechwood, partially controlled by Platinum’s principals, to rig a bond vote and pay the hedge fund manager ahead of creditors.

A Platinum spokesman declined to comment. Nordlicht’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Michael Sommer, Levy’s lawyer, said he looked forward to clearing his client.

Lawyers for the other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Founded in 2003, Platinum until this year had more than $1.7 billion under management, with more than 600 investors, authorities said. Its Value Arbitrage fund reported average returns of more than 17 percent from its inception, according to prosecutors.

This year, a series of investigations tied to Platinum came to a head. The firm hired an independent monitor in July to unwind its funds, and a Cayman Islands court in August placed its main offshore funds into liquidation.

Those moves came after the June arrest of Murray Huberfeld, a longtime Platinum associate, on charges in Manhattan federal court that he orchestrated a bribe to the head of the New York City prison guards’ union, Norman Seabrook, to secure a $20 million investment with the firm.

Seabrook pleaded not guilty, as did Huberfeld who was also arrested.

Two weeks later, the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service raided Platinum’s Manhattan offices in a separate fraud investigation that culminated in Monday’s indictment.

Others indicted on Monday include Joseph Sanfilippo, Value Arbitrage’s former chief financial officer; Joseph Mann, a former Platinum marketing employee; and Daniel Small, a Platinum managing director.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday that it was seeking a court-appointed receiver for funds managed by Platinum Credit Management, the firm’s second-largest vehicle after Value Arbitrage.

The case is U.S. v. Nordlicht et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 16-cr-640.

 

The Platinum Plethora of Indictments –

104175941-2ed1-sa-platinumpartners-i-121916-600x400

US charges hedge fund founder, others with $1 billion fraud

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/19/us-prosecutors-charge-platinum-partners-ceo-nordlicht-and-six-others-with-securities-fraud.html

Top executives of New York-based hedge fund manager Platinum Partners were arrested on Monday and charged with running an approximately $1 billion fraud that federal prosecutors said became “like a Ponzi scheme” as its largest investments lost much of their value.

Platinum, led by Mark Nordlicht, for years was known for producing exceptionally high and consistent returns by taking an usually aggressive approach to investing and fund management, as outlined by a Reuters Special Report in April.

“As alleged, Nordlicht and his cohorts engaged in one of the largest and most brazen investment frauds perpetrated on the investing public,” Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement. The charges detailed schemes that included exaggerating the value of their investments, paying some clients ahead of others and rigging a bond vote in their favor.

 

Nordlicht, Platinum’s 48-year-old founding partner and chief investment officer, was arrested at his New Rochelle, New York, home on charges listed in an indictment filed in federal court in Brooklyn.

Others arrested included David Levy, 31, Platinum’s co-chief investment officer, and Uri Landesman, 55, the former president of the firm’s signature fund, said Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Adrienne Senatore.

Platinum is already liquidating its hedge funds, two of which have received bankruptcy protection. The firm and some of its executives also face lawsuits accusing them of stealing money or intellectual property from companies they invested in.

A fatal explosion on a Black Elk oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, pictured here soon after the blast, helped push the company into bankruptcy, but not before major asset sales that benefited Platinum Partners ahead of creditors.

Sean Gardner | Reuters
A fatal explosion on a Black Elk oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, pictured here soon after the blast, helped push the company into bankruptcy, but not before major asset sales that benefited Platinum Partners ahead of creditors.

The nearly 50-page indictment on Monday said that since 2012, Nordlicht, Levy and Landesman schemed to defraud investors by overvaluing illiquid assets held by its flagship Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage Fund LP, mostly energy-related investments hit by the dramatic decline in oil prices.

This caused a “severe liquidity crisis” that Platinum at first tried to remedy through high-interest loans between its funds before selectively paying some investors ahead of others, the indictment said.

Nordlicht, Levy and Jeffrey Shulse, former chief executive officer of Platinum’s majority-owned Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, also defrauded the Texas energy company’s bondholders, the indictment said.

Black Elk is now defunct. A remaining litigation trust is attempting to claw back money from Platinum and its executives over a scheme, described in the U.S. Department of Justice charges on Monday and by Reuters in April, that used the Beechwood group of reinsurance companies to rig a bond vote and pay the hedge fund manager ahead of creditors.

A Platinum spokesman declined to comment. Nordlicht’s lawyer and a Beechwood spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Michael Sommer, Levy’s lawyer, said he looked forward to clearing his client’s “good name.”

Lawyers for Shulse and the other defendants could not be immediately identified.

Founded in 2003, Platinum until this year had more than $1.7 billion under management, the indictment said. The Value Arbitrage fund reported average returns of more than 17 percent from its inception, according to prosecutors.

But this year, a series of investigations tied to Platinum came to a head. This led the firm to hire an independent monitor in July to unwind its funds, and a Cayman Islands court in August placed its main offshore funds into liquidation.

Those moves came after the June arrest of Murray Huberfeld, a Platinum associate who prosecutors say was a founder, on charges in Manhattan federal court that he orchestrated a bribe to the head of the New York City prison guards’ union, Norman Seabrook, to secure a $20 million investment with the firm. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Two weeks later, the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service raided Platinum’s Manhattan offices in a separate fraud investigation that culminated in Monday’s indictment.

Others indicted on Monday include Joseph Sanfilippo, Value Arbitrage’s former chief financial officer; Joseph Mann, a former Platinum marketing employee; and Daniel Small, a Platinum managing director.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Monday that it was seeking a court-appointed receiver for funds managed by Platinum Credit Management, the firm’s second-largest vehicle after Value Arbitrage.

The case is U.S. v. Nordlicht et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 16-cr-640.