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This one may resurface later in the year

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

* Via a late in the game opposition research dump, we get this recent report from the Financial Times

Bank of New York Mellon suffered an 18 per cent fall in fourth-quarter earnings after the custody bank lost $115m on its investment in ConvergEx, the Wall Street broker that was accused by US regulators of “fleecing” clients through hidden fees.

* Why should you care? Well, first, what happened with ConvergEx?

A brokerage firm agreed to pay more than $151 million to settle criminal and civil charges that it inflated fees when trading for clients, bilking charities and other big investors in what prosecutors called an “astonishingly brazen” scheme.

Prosecutors accused two former traders at ConvergEx Group LLC of sending trades through an overseas unit to add hidden markups and markdowns, making unwitting investors pay tens of millions of dollars in illicit added charges, in a fraud that ran from 2006 through 2011.

The unit and former traders, Jonathan Daspin and Thomas Lekargeren, pleaded guilty to criminal charges of securities and wire fraud. ConvergEx agreed to pay criminal penalties totaling $43.8 million under a deferred prosecution agreement.

Three ConvergEx brokerage units admitted to wrongdoing as part of a more-than $107 million settlement of a parallel civil case filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The two traders also agreed to admit wrongdoing and pay a total of more than $1.2 million to settle the civil charges against them.

* Bank of New York Mellon wasn’t the only owner. The other? GTCR - the “R” stands for Rauner… Bruce Rauner

The allegations have plagued attempts by BNYMellon to sell its stake in the company, which is controlled by the custody bank and the private equity group GTCR.

* From a class action complaint

In reality, under Defendants’ double-charging scheme, Defendants received both the disclosed commissions and additional undisclosed and unauthorized fees that often exceeded the disclosed commissions received from the ERISA plans that used their services.

Defendants generated the additional, undisclosed fees by funneling trade orders for the purchase and sale of securities to an off shore subsidiary broker located in Bermuda. The subsidiary broker executed the trade orders as a principal, rather than an agent. The subsidiary broker then added a markup on the price, for a purchase, or a markdown, for a sale. By doing so, the subsidiary broker created a “spread” between the actual price and the reported price. The Defendants confirmed the reported price to their customers and collected and kept the undisclosed and unauthorized “spread” as additional compensation. The profits from retaining the “spreads” on these trades were referred to by Defendants as “trading profits” or “TP.”

The amount of TP income Defendants earned in this fashion varied, but it generally equaled, or exceeded by roughly as much as 10 times, the amount of income Defendants earned through disclosed brokerage commissions on the same trades.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


41 Comments
  1. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Well if it resurfaces, I hope they find a simple way of explaining this. As far as I can tell, Rauner’s firm owned a company that was ripping off its customers. It isn’t clear whether Rauner profited from the illegal behavior or knew anything about it.

    At most, as far as I can tell, it’s just another example of him not being such a great businessman. Those examples are starting to pile up though, and that’s interesting in itself.

    Bruce Rauner wants to run Illinois like a business, just not one of his businesses.


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    No worries.

    As he has before, Bruce will tell you he doesn’t know what’s going on in the businesses he owns.

    Also, he doesn’t know who works for him or what they do, even when it’s Illinois most notorious fixer, Stu Levine, at $25K a month, even when he’s pitching him, in-person, for more public business.

    And he can’t remember who he’s talked to or what they talked about.

    Finally, when cornered, throw the wife under the bus.

    So he’ll run the state like his businesses, savvy? It’s the Sgt. Schultz business model.


  3. - Frenchie Mendoza - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    Rauner’s money surely came from deals like these.

    Yet, he (I’m sure) will deny knowing anything — and simply shrug it off as something he had no control over.

    His narrative is a confusing one. He has more money than most of us will make in 100 lifetimes. Yet, he loves his $18 watch. He can clout his daughter into a school of his choice, yet he made no calls.

    His business ventures — literally — hurt people. Yet he knows nothing about the deals and has no control over the deals.

    He’s the darling of the hard core GOP because he promises to give workers pay cuts and abolish all collective bargaining. Yet he offers nothing else — no vision, no hope, no specific programs he’ll get behind.

    He wants referendums on issues he won’t commit to — this, in order to avoid committing.

    He’s happy to be in the .01% — yet pretends like it doesn’t matter.

    Nothing he does makes sense. I don’t get it. He’s made incredible amounts of money yet he apparently has no idea how it appears in his bank accounts.


  4. - Walker - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    Absolute criminal fraud, and they got caught. About time. Might be a good sign regulators are getting more off-shore information, and becoming more sophisticated.

    It might be that GCTR lost money on this deal, which would point to sloppy oversight.

    My guess is this is not the only case of hidden fees earned illegally by those who manage retirement funds on behalf of other entities.

    If any of Rauner’s controlled companies earned such artificially created “trading fees” on any Illinois retirement funds, he’s worse than toast.

    We’ll probably see the powers of separation once again.


  5. - John A Logan - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    Rauner, the accidental millionaire.


  6. - Mason born - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    I hate to say it because i’d love for something to come up and knock Rauner into Rutherford poll numbers but this seems like two crooks were ripping folks off and a subsidiary of one of Rauners companies failed to catch them. I just don’t know that it is any more relevant than blaming Quinn for the IDNR fishing guy. Now we find out he knew and did nothing then we have the stake.


  7. - Carhart - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    But who cares! He’s not a career politician. He wears a Carhart jacket, a $30 Timex and hunts. Oh yea, I guess I forgot he fishes with Rahm in Montana too. What he made like $50 million last year? Oh he is just one of us, a normal guy. I see his commercials every few minutes. Ask yourself why would a man who makes $50 million a year want to be Governor. Now you get the picture, its not what it looks like on TV!


  8. - Labordude - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    Everyone here is missing the most important part of this case. The Justice Department has “deferred” prosecution of the two traders in question. I am told by former prosecutors that this means only one thing. The Feds are trying to get the traders to talk and incriminate higher ups at GTCR. Remember, unlike the nursing home scandal Rauner has not created multiple layers of ownership with this company. The only place the Feds have to go for higher ups is GTRC itself and perhaps Rauner. Watch as this case develops.


  9. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:57 pm:

    This is a little harder to tie directly to Rauner or maybe even GTCR based on the information presented. If there is some indication that GTCR knew or suspected that these mopes were goosing the commissions, then they should wear the jacket.
    I’m not seeing that yet, but I don’t disagree that the pattern developing here is unflattering for the “Community Leader and Businessman.”


  10. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Labordude, that’s a bunch of total nonsense.


  11. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Might help Quinn shore up the base.

    Of course, Rauner might just respond with:

    Why are Pat Quinn and his special interest friends attacking Bruce Rauner?

    To distract voters from Pat Quinn’s record of mismanagement.

    Cue $54 million NRI money up in smoke, according to independent investigators.

    Cue people on payroll charged with murder.

    Cue Rauner inauguration.

    Of course, in the African American community, they will not only remind voters that Quinn was paying gangbangers, they will remind voters of all the ways $54 million could have been spent instead, and it will be signed by friends of Rev. James Meeks.

    My point: I don’t think Quinn is gonna win this one by making it a debate about who is the best manager.

    It is a Change election. Quinn needs to figure out how to make the case that Illinois is better of than it was four years ago, and will be better off four years from now under him than under Bruce Rauner.


  12. - Secret Square - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    “The only place the Feds have to go for higher ups is GTCR itself”

    Or Bank of NY Mellon, which is the other owner. Still, this does bear watching.


  13. - Labordude - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:04 pm:

    Like many of Rauner’s deals Mellon Bank only put money into the deal. Rauner is the hands on manager and supplier of talent.


  14. - Dave - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Might be worth keeping in mind that the majority of PE investments are in distressed companies (I.e. Failing) which leads to reduced internal controls from staffing reductions and have higher cases of fraud as the ability to commit it is higher. Biggest deterrent is the perception of getting caught, which is greatly reduced in these environments. Alternatively, the upside is a high pay-off if the investment is successful. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that someone that invests in companies doesn’t know the staff directly. Similarly, it would be like asking if you knew everyone that was managing every mutual fund you have invested in. Very likely and appropriate he doesn’t now, doesn’t mean it’s not going to affect him though.


  15. - not so simple - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    This company was formed by GTCR “Golden Rauner” and NY Mellon Bank in 2006. Fleecing pension funds. I think it will be hard to claim ignorance. Commercials with retirees who will not get their due because of criminal activity. Breech of fidiciary duty. New York Banks. This story can be told effectively.


  16. - Frenchie Mendoza - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    As these stories trickle out, I’m beginning to sense that Rauner is not the brilliant manager — or salesman, whatever he calls himself this week — that he claims to be.

    There’s a lot of weirdness in the deals he’s been involved in (although not personally aware of). My sense is that this weirdness — the illegalities, especially — will multiply over the coming months. It also surprises me that GOP primary voters don’t seem to care about Rauner’s obviously questionable management/sales missteps. I mean, it’d be nice to hear from someone who actually worked for Rauner if he’s really the crack businessman he claims to be.

    My sense is that he’s not — and that he’s nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is. He has the money to buy ears and votes — but he doesn’t seem (at this point, at least) to have the brains necessary to actually run a state like a business. This, I’m sure, translates into: well, I’ll outsource to consultants — another reason he’ll be gunning for the unions from Day 1. With the unions out of the way, abolished, he’ll be able to swing a ton of business currently done by agencies within the state to his buddies.

    I mean, isn’t this what private equity firms do? Slash and burn from Day 1 — and then claim incredible dollars saved despite the legal fallout.


  17. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    I’m sure that Rauner has many layers between himself and the folks who made money for him. I also expect more of these shady types of deals to pop up.

    So far, the biggest error he made was showing up to ask a panel that included one of his employees (Stu Levine) for state contract. (Whoops! Forgot to send the lackeys!)

    It hurts his narrative of “Elect me because I have run some very successful businesses.” because he must either accept responsibility for bad actions OR deny that he knew what was going on.

    While this case is complex, it can be boiled down to “Bruce made money by fleecing his clients, how can we trust him with our tax dollars?” He can deny that he knew what was going on, but every time he does it undercuts his core message.


  18. - Labordude - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    Not so simple-

    You are correct. This is a simple story to tell with retirees talking straight into the camera about what the loss means to their lives. It can be coupled with is slash state workers’ pay, force them into 401k’s and no social security. Bruce Rauner wants people to work until they die. Easy, peasy, one-two-threesy.


  19. - OneMan - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    Too complicated for most folks to understand…

    Also for

    The only place the Feds have to go for higher ups is GTRC itself and perhaps Rauner.

    Really, sort of ignores BNYMellon as an owner doesn’t it?

    Also read the story on the FT website, the firm, not the traders who got the deferred prosecution. In part and as part of a settlement with the SEC.

    The traders paid a civil fine, usually they don’t do a civil thing then a criminal thing because you wouldn’t agree to a civil fine if you had a criminal case because paying a civil fine is kind of damning…

    If you want to read what the SEC did I would suggest you go here

    http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2013/34-71128.pdf

    As for what your friends told you about deferred prosecution might I suggest you read wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deferred_prosecution

    or the NYT

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/14/opinion/prosecution-deferred-justice-denied.html?_r=0

    The use of deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, which began during the George W. Bush administration and has increased under President Obama, allows companies to avoid criminal charges if they pay substantial penalties, improve their compliance programs and cooperate with authorities. The companies do not plead guilty. They are not convicted of any crimes. They do not receive criminal sentences.

    So you can hope for some sort of October surprise, but it would seem to me in reviewing the publicly available information there is not going to be some big criminal thing….


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    –Rauner is the hands on manager and supplier of talent.–

    The GTCR business model is matching up assets poised for growth with top industry managers, according to them.

    So, they select the folks who run the show.


  21. - OneMan - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    Opps correction.

    Yeah the traders did a deferred thing along with paying the fine. But again, it does not mean you are turning states evidence, it means you are avoiding prosecution by paying a fine.


  22. - Secret Square - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    Is “deferred prosecution” sort of similar to “court supervision” at the state level, where you get to avoid jail and don’t get a conviction on your record if you successfully behave yourself for the set amount of time?


  23. - Percival - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    Rauner may yet again shrug, and might even be right, but there is a “Scuzball Limit” out there, where one story too many causes a reaction in the electorate that the candidate is plain old dirty. Reach that limit and the game is up. Rauner does not appear to have reached it yet, but the hits just keep on coming.


  24. - OneMan - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    Percival,

    Totally agree, the catch is this sort of stuff counts less in IMHO that other stuff.


  25. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:31 pm:

    OneMan, that’s how I read it fwiw. The FT story didn’t infer to me at least that “higher-ups” were being investigated.
    The next question seems to be how much money GTCR made or lost for its investors on this deal.


  26. - Excessively Rabid - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    Rauner surely didn’t get as rich as he is by being stupid or uninformed. My belief is he did it by being cunning and completely unprincipled. And I think the sole purpose of his sudden interest in public office is to get employee pension funds where they can more easily be looted. I further think this is not a one man scheme.


  27. - Labordude - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    GTCR created the company and the traders were Rauner guys.


  28. - Cassandra - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:55 pm:

    Our choices in the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race are shaping up to be very, very bad.


  29. - Langhorne - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:17 pm:

    Too difficult to explain to a voter, esp if just now listening.true believers will dismiss it. Anti rauner voters already have an opinion on this type of stuff


  30. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:27 pm:

    ===Too difficult to explain to a voter===

    Robbery ain’t difficult to explain.

    But that’s not what I was talking about anyway.


  31. - tbone - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:51 pm:

    Convergex ran themselves. Rauner had nothing to do with day to day management. I work with convergex all the time.


  32. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:57 pm:

    - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Easiest way to explain it is by saying the bills were padded coming and going.


  33. - CollegeStudent - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:08 pm:

    ===Convergex ran themselves. Rauner had nothing to do with day to day management. I work with convergex all the time.===

    So how can this be rationalized with Rauner’s “vow” to get to personally know every member of the legislature?


  34. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    ===Convergex ran themselves. Rauner had nothing to do with day to day management–

    And it begins, lol.

    He owned the company. He’s responsible for everything they do. That’s what ownership means.

    Is that how he’s going to roll as governor?

    “I’m The Man, but I don’t know what’s going on and I have no responsibility for operations under my control and for those I selected to work for me?”

    What a testimonial to leadership, executive and business skills.

    I bet he banked any profits he had coming from the business.


  35. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:28 pm:

    -wordslinger-,

    He’ll be just like every other Gov. It is always caused by an overzealous Director … who is shipped overseas out of reach of the feds, or gets fired, or goes to jail and keeps his mouth shut. The only difference is Rauner can personally guarantee a better golden parachute …


  36. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 6:10 pm:

    “…Rauner’s firm owned a company that was ripping off its customers. It isn’t clear whether Rauner profited from the illegal behavior or knew anything about it.”

    Anybody who thinks Convergex was the only player doing this during the time period needs to really start digging. Convergex (hopefully) is just the start of this investigation.

    ” The only place the Feds have to go for higher ups is GTRC itself and perhaps Rauner. Watch as this case develops.”

    Not even close. GTRC is small fish. The feds wanted to know (from inside) how it works - and now they have that. Now they know what to look for. Convergex is just a potential stepping stone, and now the feds have that.

    Remember the term HFT (High Frequency Trading).

    Unless the feds can show that Rauner was directly involved in the trading activities of a firm they had invested in (very, very unlikely IMO), the investigation(s) will go elsewhere.


  37. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 6:42 pm:

    ==Convergex ran themselves. Rauner had nothing to do with day to day management==

    That’s a fine excuse and might well be true, but it undercuts his message of hands-on leadership that is put forth as his primary qualification for governor. Each ad Rauner has to run saying “I didn’t know about that” negates his ads touting his business leadership.


  38. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 7:28 pm:

    Tony Soprano did not have knowledge of the day-to-day operations of Christopher’s truck hijackings or Paulie’s shakedowns, but he got a share of every dollar they earned.

    So if you profit off a criminal enterprise but don’t know the source of each dollar in profits you are innocent?


  39. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:36 pm:

    This will provide even more ammunition for Quinn in the General Election campaign ahead. Quinn will hold their fire for now but if Rauner is indeed the GOP nominee they will unload in the fall leading up to election day. If Rauner is the nominee the GOP will have blown it again. I think Dillard has a much better shot.


  40. - Late to the Party - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 6:11 am:

    “yeah, the family had a lot of buffers.”

    I’m sure that Rauner does too.


  41. - No Sense - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 8:25 am:

    Rauner is in the race to help Quinn to win. The other two Brady and Dillard ran 4 years ago and lost to Quinn. The new blood looks like Rutherford.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Happy Lunar New Year.
* Obama Proposes $4.1 Trillion Budget; Federal Workers Push For Higher Wages
* She’s busy, but Randi still makes time for Hillary.
* Chicago City Council Roundup: The Brouhaha Over Council Oversight & Plan To Slap Cab Riders With Another Surcharge
* Maryville Gets City Council Zoning Okay, Nearing Final Steps of Approval Process
* Obama returns to Springfield to promote "better politics"
* Republican Carly Fiorina suspends 2016 presidential bid
* State Commission Presses Illinois Leaders To Invest $4 Billion In African-American Communities


* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact




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