Monthly Archives: February 2009

Hedge Fund Start Up Presentation

How to Start a Hedge Fund in 2009

Below is a link to a powerpoint presentation in which I detail the background information a hedge fund manager must have prior to starting the hedge fund formation process.  The presentation is designed to familiarize a manager with the process of forming a fund while identifying potential issues which the manager should be aware of during the process.

The presentation is 18 slides long and is about 40 minutes.  I will also be posting a video here shortly.

Hedge Fund Presentation with Voice

Starting a hedge fund in 2009 (voice) (voice-over powerpoint)

For more viewing options, please see our Hedge Fund Lawyer youtube profile.

Hedge Fund Presentation without Voice
Starting a Hedge Fund

Thoughts on Hedge Fund Offering Documents

FAQs on Offering Documents

I recently read an article by a hedge fund administration firm which discussed hedge fund offering documents and start up hedge fund expenses.  I thought this was an interesting topic and one which is popular with many of my start up clients.  Below I discuss some of the common questions regarding the offering documents and also provide reasons why a start up manager should use my law firm for starting a hedge fund.


Offering documents are just boilerplate – why are they so expensive?

This is a common misperception.  Offering documents (if done correctly) are not merely boilerplate where the attorney pops in the fund name and the address – offering documents are a tailored to the specific needs of the client based on the client’s investment program and fund structure.

For instance, there are at least 12 different questions related to the management fee and performance fee/ performance allocation.  There are at least 22 different questions related to the fund’s contribution periods and withdrawal periods.  This level of customization does not come from a boilerplate form.  Furthermore, many of these questions or options may have specific implications for the manager’s business either from a legal standpoint or a business standpoint.  Many times the lawyer will need to have an in-depth discussion with the manager to help the manager determine which option is right for the fund.

Why are offering documents so long?

Offering documents are long – there is no getting around it.  The structure of the offering documents are determined by the federal and state securities laws and thus there is not really any wiggle room.  While it is often said that the hedge fund industry is “not regulated” or “lightly regulated” there are many hedge fund laws and regulations which managers must follow.   These laws dictate many aspects of the documents and are why offering documents are so long (and also why offering documents from different firms are structured so similarly).

In this prior post, discussing “Prospectus Creep” we discussed the length of offering documents:

4.  Is the Prospectus written for the Manager or the Investor?

Castle Hall discusses the interesting phenomenon of “Prospectus Creep” or basically the lengthening of hedge fund offering documents as hedge fund lawyers add more clauses to the documents which are designed to protect the managers.  Castle Hall notes that “today’s offering documents are typically drafted to give maximum freedom of action for the manager and often permit unrestricted investment activities. Investors are also faced with offering documents which list every possible risk factor in an attempt to absolve the manager from responsibility under virtually all loss scenarios.”

HFLB: We agree that offering documents can be long and that often they contain a long list of risk factors associated with the investment program.  The purpose of the offering documents is to explain the manager’s investment program and if the manager truly has a “kitchen sink” investment program, then all of the disclosures and risk factors are a necessary part of the offering documents.  However we also feel that hedge fund offering documents should accurately describe the manager’s proposed investment program and that if the manager has a very specific strategy, he should provide as much detail to the investors as possible.

Can I draft offering documents myself?  I have a friend who has some documents I think I can modify.

No.  You should never draft offering documents yourself.  I have seen countless examples of people who have tried to draft their own offering documents based on another fund.  Many times these people will ask me to “check the documents.”  Ninety-five percent of the time a brief skim of the documents will reveal major errors that cannot simply be fixed with a 2 hour review.   In most all occasions the documents will need to be completely scrapped.

Are all law firm offering documents the same?

No, but law firm documents are all very similar.

It is an interesting phenomenon in the hedge fund legal world that attorneys are always interested in (or obsessed with) reading the other law firms offering documents. As one of those lawyers that is very interested in the differences between the offering documents, I have studied the documents from most all of the major hedge fund law firms including the firms listed below which are considered to be the best in the industry.

  • Sidley Austin
  • Shartsis Friese
  • Seward & Kissel
  • Kleinberg, Kaplan, Wolff & Cohen
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel
  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  • K&L Gates

I have probably read through 500 different offering documents (many from the same large law firms) and have found most documents to be quite similar. For the most part with a name brand firm you are going to get a quality product that is probably pretty equal to another large or name brand law firm.  These documents will very likely protect you in all of the necessary ways.

However, that is not to say that all large law firm offering documents are perfect.  I have seen offering documents which cost over $70,000 with typos and errors.  Many times expensive offering documents are sloppy in certain respects – I expect this is because many large law firms use inexperienced associate attorneys to draft the offering documents.

Does price equal quality?

Not necessarily.  While you are less likely to receive white glove service from a document shop, BigLaw does not necessarily equate to fine quality – especially for small and start up managers.  In a large law firm you are going to probably initially talk with a partner about your program who will then relay the information to an associate who will be in charge of your project.  This means that your offering documents are likely drafted by an overworked associate who has relatively little experience.

I always recommend a start up manager ask the law firm who will be drafting the offering documents and how much experience the person has.  Many large law firms will say that an associate will draft the documents but the partner will review prior to finalization.  I find it hard to believe that a partner will review offering documents – many times this is not true.

Low cost offering documents – are you getting less quality?

In some cases yes, but in the case of my law firm documents the answer is a resounding NO.  While my firm will charge around $13,000 to $18,000 for offering documents (considered to be on the lower end), this does not mean that the quality of my work is less than any other firm.

As I have mentioned before on this site, I have worked with a substantial number of start up hedge funds and have drafted the offering documents or worked on around 150 funds.   Also, I have spent a great deal of time dissecting offering documents from a large number of firms.  My dedication to completely understanding the offering documents, along with my passion for the industry and helping managers with their business issues makes my services a compelling alternative to other firms which may cost more.

Additionally, I value the client relationship and always strive to return emails and phone calls promptly.


While the offering documents are the tangible item which you receive from your hedge fund lawyer, it is not the only part of the representation.  The offering documents are not valuable as objects, but really as a representation of the prior experience of the attorney who prepared those documents for your fund, based on your needs.


Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to start a hedge fund. Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund, or if you have questions about becoming registered as a CPO or CTA, please call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.

Hedge Fund Taxes May Increase under Obama

Obama to Propos Taxing Hedge Fund Carried Interest

Groups such as the New York Times and Daily Finance are reporting that Obama’s proposed fiscal 2010 budget, which will be released tomorrow, will include provisions which will increase taxes for hedge fund managers (and private equity fund managers).   Such a provision would likely be written to provide that a carried interest (also called a performance allocation) paid to a management company would be characterized as ordinary income instead of capital gain (to the extent the underlying profits were long term capital gains which are subject to a lower tax rate).

Hedge fund managers are not likely to receive much sympathy from the general public, but this is a hot button issue which will likely incense many of Obama’s supporters.  Hedge fund taxation has been an issue batted around in the media and was especially popular a year and a half ago when the Blackston group was preparing to go public (see Bloomberg article).  The issue has been smoldering for a while (see Hedge Fund Tax Issues 2007), but groups are beginning to examine and analyze this issue (see the abstract of an academic report below) rather than react in a knee-jerk manner.

What we will ask of the President, lawmakers and regulators is that they examine the issue from an academic perspective and make informed decisions.  Hopefully reports like the one below will persuade lawmakers to ultimately keep the carried interest tax preference for hedge funds and private equity funds.

We will continue to report on this issue and will release any applicable information once the fiscal budget is released.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions if you have any hedge fund law questions.


Measuring the Tax Subsidy in Private Equity and Hedge Fund Compensation

Karl Okamoto
Drexel University College of Law

Thomas J. Brennan
Northwestern University School of Law

February 26, 2008

Drexel College of Law Research Paper No. 2008-W-01


A debate is raging over the taxation of private equity and hedge fund managers. It is being played out in the headlines, in Congress and among legal scholars. This paper offers a new analysis of the subject. We provide an analytical model that allows us to compare the relative risk-reward benefit enjoyed by private equity and hedge fund managers and other managerial types such as corporate executives and entrepreneurs. We look to relative benefits in order to determine the extent to which the current state of the world favors the services of a private equity or hedge fund manager over these other workers. Our conclusion is that private equity and hedge fund managers do outperform other workers on a risk-adjusted, after-tax basis. In the case of hedge fund managers, this superiority persists even after the preferential tax treatment is eliminated, suggesting that taxes alone do not provide a complete explanation. We assume that over time compensation of private equity and hedge fund managers should approach equilibrium on a risk-adjusted basis with other comparable compensation opportunities. In the meantime, however, our model suggests that differences in tax account for a substantial portion of the disjuncture that exists at the moment. It also quantifies the significant excess returns to private fund managers that must be taken into account by arguments in support of their current tax treatment by analogy to entrepreneurs and corporate executives. This analysis is important for two reasons. It provides a perspective on the current issue that has so far been ignored by answering the question of how taxation may affect behavior in the market for allocating human capital. It also provides quantitative precision to the current debate which relies significantly on loosely drawn analogies between fund managers on the one hand and entrepreneurs and corporate executives on the other. This paper provides the mathematics that these comparisons imply.

Other hedge fund tax and law articles include:

New Hedge Fund Laws Proposed in Connecticut

State to Increase Regulation of Hedge Funds

(  Connecticut, home of many of the biggest hedge funds in the world, may begin regulating hedge funds in a heavy handed manner.  Recently state lawmakers have introduced three bills (Raised Bill No. 953, Raised Bill No. 6477 and Raised Bill No. 6480) which would greatly increase oversight of hedge funds which have a presence in Connecticut.   This article provides an overview of the three raised bills and provides reprints the actual text of these bills.

Raised Bill No. 953

The largest of the three bills, No. 953 has the following central features:

  • Definitions certain terms (including the term “Hedge Fund”) which are used throughout the bill.
  • Provides that, starting in 2011, hedge funds may not have individual investors  who do not have $2.5 million in “investment assets” (different than net worth)
  • Provides that, starting in 2011, hedge funds may not have institutional investors who do not have $5 million in “investment assets”
  • Provides that funds must disclose certain conflicts of interest of the manager
  • Provides that funds must disclose the existence of side letters
  • Requires an annual audit (beginning in 2010)

The above provisions would apply to those funds which have an office in Connecticut where employees regularly conduct business on behalf of the fund.   It is currently unclear whether there will be any sort of grandfathering provisions for those funds which currently have investors who do  not meet the “investment assets” threshold.   Another interesting part of the bill is that it defines a hedge fund with reference to Section 3(c)(1) and Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act.  The recently proposed Hedge Fund Transparency Act would actually eliminate these sections and add new Section 6(a)(6) and Section 6(a)(7).

Raised Bill No. 6477

The next bill is No. 6477 which would require hedge funds to be regulated by the Connecticut Banking Commission.  The bill requires hedge funds to purchase a $500 license issued by the Connecticut Banking Commissioner prior to conducting business in Connecticut.  The license would need to be purchased each year.  The bill also provides the Banking Commission with authority to adopt regulations.

This bill is interesting because it is fundamentally different from most hedge fund regulations which seek to regulate the management company through investment advisor registration.  This bill regulates the fund entity (as opposed to the management company) and does so through the power of the state to regulate banking.   Right now it looks like this bill will apply to all hedge funds, even those who do not utilize leverage.  It is not currently clear why or how the Banking Commission has jurisdiction non-banking private pools of capital, especially for those funds which do not utilize any sort of leverage.

It is also interesting to note that No. 6477 would apply regardless of the registration status of the fund’s management company.  This means that a fund could be subject to SEC oversight and may also be subject to direct oversight by the Connecticut Department of Banking (“DOB”), which means the DOB could presumably conduct audits of the fund.  Of course, this could potentially greatly increase operational costs for hedge funds with an office in Connecticut.

Raised Bill No. 6480

The final bill is No. 6480 which would require Connecticut based hedge funds with Connecticut pension fund investors to disclose detailed portfolio information to such pension funds upon request.  It goes without saying that this bill is likely to receive a considerable amount of scrutiny from the Connecticut hedge fund community.


The hedge fund industry continues to be a major focus of both state and federal lawmakers who are anxious to start regulating these vehicles.  Unfortunately we are witnessing a patchwork approach to regulation where there is little communication between the states and the federal lawmakers.  If other states follow Connecticut’s lead then we face the potential situation where funds in each state will need to follow state specific laws enacted by quick-to-legislate, out-of-touch lawmakers.   Efficiency in the securities markets is undercut by overlapping and unnecessary regulations – both managers and investors would be better served by a comprehensive effort to revise the securities laws at the federal and state levels.


Raised Bill No. 953
January Session, 2009

Referred to Committee on Banks
Introduced by: (BA)


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) As used in this section:

(1) “Hedge fund” means any investment company, as defined in Section 3(a)(1) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, located in this state (A) that claims an exemption under Section 3(c)(1) or Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act of 1940; (B) whose offering of securities is exempt under the private offering safe harbor criteria in Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act; and (C) that meets any other criteria as may be established by the Banking Commissioner in regulations adopted under subsection (f) of this section. A hedge fund is located in this state if such fund has an office in Connecticut where employees regularly conduct business on behalf of the hedge fund;

(2) “Institutional investor” means an investor other than an individual investor including, but not limited to, a bank, savings and loan association, registered broker, dealer, investment company, licensed small business investment company, corporation or any other legal entity;

(3) “Investment assets” includes any security, real estate held for investment purposes, bank deposits, cash and cash equivalents, commodity interests held for investment purposes and such other forms of investment assets as may be established by the Banking Commissioner in regulations adopted under subsection (f) of this section;

(4) “Investor” means any holder of record of a class of equity security in a hedge fund;

(5) “Major litigation” means any legal proceeding in which the hedge fund is a party which if decided adversely against the hedge fund would require such fund to make material future expenditures or have a material adverse impact on the hedge fund’s financial position;

(6) “Manager” means an individual located in this state who has direct and personal responsibility for the operation and management of a hedge fund; and

(7) “Material” means, with respect to future expenditures or adverse impact on the hedge fund’s financial position, more than one per cent of the assets of the hedge fund.

(b) On or after January 1, 2011, no hedge fund shall consist of individual investors who, individually or jointly with a spouse, have less than two million five hundred thousand dollars in investment assets or institutional investors that have less than five million dollars in assets.

(c) The manager shall disclose to each investor or prospective investor in a hedge fund, not later than thirty days before any investment in the hedge fund, any financial or other interests the manager may have that conflict with or are likely to impair, the manager’s duties and responsibilities to the fund or its investors.

(d) The manager shall disclose, in writing, to each investor in a hedge fund (1) any material change in the investment strategy and philosophy of the fund and the departure of any individual employed by such fund who exercises significant control over the investment strategy or operation of the fund, (2) the existence of any side letters provided to investors in the fund, and (3) any major litigation involving the fund or governmental investigation of the fund.

(e) On January 1, 2010, and annually thereafter, the manager shall disclose, in writing, to each investor in a hedge fund (1) the fee schedule to be paid by the hedge fund including, but not limited to, management fees, brokerage fees and trading fees, and (2) a financial statement indicating the investor’s capital balance that has been audited by an independent auditing firm.

(f) The Banking Commissioner may adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54 of the general statutes, to implement the provisions of this section.\


Raised Bill No. 6477
January Session, 2009

Referred to Committee on Banks
Introduced by: (BA)


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) No person shall establish or conduct business in this state as a hedge fund or private capital fund without a license issued by the Banking Commissioner. Applicants for such license shall apply to the Department of Banking on forms prescribed by the commissioner. Each application shall be accompanied by a fee of five hundred dollars. Such license shall be valid for one year and may be renewed upon payment of a fee of five hundred dollars and in accordance with the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(b) The Banking Commissioner shall adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes for purposes of this section.


Raised Bill No. 6480
January Session, 2009

Referred to Committee on Banks
Introduced by: (BA)


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2009) Any hedge fund or private capital fund that is (1) domiciled in the state, and (2) receiving money from pension funds domiciled in the state shall disclose to each prospective pension investor in such funds, upon request, financial information including, but not limited to, detailed portfolio information relative to the assets and liabilities of such funds.

Ponzi Scheme Targets Deaf Community

SEC and CFTC Act to Halt New Fraud

Another fraud was unveiled today as the SEC and the CFTC worked in conjunction to halt a ponzi scheme which purportedly made great returns by trading in the off-exchange foreign currency (forex) markets.  The scammer was a member of the deaf community and perpetrated the fraud on others in the deaf community – a classic example of affinity fraud.  The press releases from both the SEC and the CFTC are reprinted below.

This fraud comes on the heels of other well publicized frauds within the investment management industry including:


SEC Halts Ponzi Scheme Targeting Deaf Investors


Washington, D.C., Feb. 19, 2009 — The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained a court order halting a Ponzi scheme that specifically targeted members of the Deaf community in the United States and Japan.

The SEC alleges that Hawaii-based Billion Coupons, Inc. (BCI) and its CEO Marvin R. Cooper raised $4.4 million from 125 investors since at least September 2007 by, among other things, holding investment seminars at Deaf community centers. The SEC also alleges that Cooper misappropriated at least $1.4 million in investor funds to pay for a new home and other personal expenses. The order obtained by the SEC freezes the assets of BCI and Cooper.

“This emergency action shows that the Commission will act quickly and decisively to help victims of affinity fraud,” said Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“A Ponzi scheme targeting members of the Deaf community is particularly reprehensible,” said Rosalind R. Tyson, Regional Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “This case is an example of successful coordination between federal and state agencies to protect vulnerable investors.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed yesterday in federal court in Honolulu, alleges that BCI and Cooper represented to the investors that their funds would be invested in the foreign exchange (Forex) markets, that investors would receive returns of up to 25 percent compounded monthly from such trading, and that their investments were safe. According to the complaint, BCI and Cooper actually used only a net $800,000 (cash deposits minus cash withdrawals) of investor funds for Forex trading, and they lost more than $750,000 from their Forex trading. The complaint further alleges that BCI and Cooper failed to generate sufficient funds from their Forex trading to pay the promised returns, and instead operated as a Ponzi scheme by paying returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.

The SEC alleges that BCI and Cooper have violated the registration and antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. In its lawsuit, the SEC obtained an order temporarily enjoining BCI and Cooper from future violations of these provisions. The SEC also obtained an order: (1) freezing the assets of BCI and Cooper; (2) appointing a temporary receiver over BCI; (3) preventing the destruction of documents; (4) granting expedited discovery; and (5) requiring BCI and Cooper to provide accountings. The Commission also seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement, and civil penalties against both defendants. A hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued against the defendants and whether a permanent receiver should be appointed is scheduled for March 2, 2009, at 9 a.m. HST.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also filed an emergency action yesterday against BCI and Cooper, alleging violations of the antifraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act. The State of Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), Office of the Commissioner of Securities, issued a preliminary order to cease and desist against BCI and Cooper.

The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the Hawaii DCCA’s Office of the Commissioner of Securities and the assistance of the CFTC in this matter.

# # #

For more information, contact:

Andrew Petillon
Associate Regional Director, Los Angeles Regional Office
(323) 965-3214

Kelly Bowers
Senior Assistant Regional Director, Los Angeles Regional Office
(323) 965-3924

John B. Bulgozdy
Senior Trial Counsel, Los Angeles Regional Office
(323) 965-3322


Release: 5614-09
For Release: February 19, 2009

CFTC Charges Hawaii-based Marvin Cooper and Billion Coupons, Inc. with Operating a $4 Million Foreign Currency Ponzi Scheme Aimed at Defrauding the Deaf Community

Court Freezes Defendants’ Assets and Appoints Temporary Receiver

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that it charged Marvin Cooper and his company Billion Coupons, Inc. (BCI), both of Honolulu, Hawaii, with operating a Ponzi scheme that involved more than 125 customers — all of whom are Deaf — in connection with commodity futures trading and foreign currency futures (forex) trading.

The CFTC alleges that since at least September 2007, Cooper and BCI solicited approximately $4.4 million from more than 125 Deaf American and Japanese individuals for the sole purported purpose of trading forex. Also, according to the complaint, while Cooper and BCI opened both forex and futures accounts with approximately $1.7 million of customer money, Cooper misappropriated more than $1.4 million of customer funds for personal use. Cooper allegedly used the misappropriated funds to purchase computer and electronic equipment, flying lessons, and a $1 million home. He also allegedly returned approximately $1.6 million to customers as purported “profits” and as commissions to employees and agents.

“This case is a clear example of affinity fraud: Cooper preyed upon the Deaf community to leverage and exploit the inherent trust within so that his scheme would prosper. The CFTC urges the public to be cautious with their investments even when opportunities are presented by those with whom they have an association,” said CFTC Acting Director of Enforcement Stephen J. Obie.

Cooper and BCI allegedly lured in customers with promises of 15 to 25 percent monthly returns, depending on the amount and size of the customer’s investment, while representing that the investment would be low risk and that the promised return was produced by their successful trading. Cooper and BCI, however, were running a Ponzi scheme since the purported “profits” paid to customers came from existing customers’ original principal and/or from money invested by subsequent customers.

Finally, the complaint alleges that to conceal and perpetuate their fraud, Cooper and BCI provided customers with false account statements representing that their accounts were increasing by as much as 25 percent, when, in fact, the accounts were collectively losing money every month.

Court Orders Freeze of Assets and Appoints Temporary Receiver

On February 18, 2009, the Honorable J. Michael Seabright of the United States District Court of Hawaii granted the CFTC’s request for emergency action by, among other things, freezing Cooper’s and BCI’s assets, granting immediate access to Cooper’s and BCI’s documents and appointing Barry Fisher as temporary receiver. Judge Seabright ordered Cooper and BCI to appear in court on March 2, 2009, at 9 a.m. for a preliminary injunction hearing. In the continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks restitution, disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, and permanent injunctions against further violations of the federal commodities laws and against further trading.

The CFTC requests that all victims of Cooper’s and BCI’s actions contact the temporary receiver at (310) 557-1077.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC simultaneously filed a related emergency action against Cooper and BCI. The CFTC also wishes to thank the State of Hawaii, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Office of the Commissioner of Securities.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Kenneth W. McCracken, Elizabeth Davis, Michael Loconte, Rick Glaser, and Richard Wagner.

Last Updated: February 19, 2009

Forex E-Micro

New Forex Product Launched by CME

As the CFTC continues to work on promulgating rules which would require forex managers to register (the so called new forex registration rules), the CME has introduced a new forex product called the Forex E-micro which is geared towards the retail forex investor.  It is currently not clear how this new product will fit within the CFTC’s regulatory regime.  We will keep you updated as the CFTC and the NFA provides guidance on this product.


CME Group to Launch Forex E-Micro Contracts

Smaller contract size and proportionally reduced margins aimed to attract retail participation

CHICAGO, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — CME Group, the world’s largest and most diverse derivatives exchange, today announced that it will launch a series of innovative smaller-sized Foreign Exchange (FX) contracts, called Forex E-Micros, designed to enable retail traders and investors to cost-effectively access the security, transparency and liquidity of CME Group’s FX products. These contracts are listed with, and subject to, the rules and regulations of CME.

“Our new Forex E-micro futures contracts provide the opportunity for a broader universe of customers to mitigate their counterparty risk by trading FX in CME’s $100 billion-a-day global FX liquidity pool,” said Derek Sammann, CME Group Managing Director, Global Head of FX Products. “Active individual traders looking to participate in the global FX market, or small businesses seeking a cost-effective hedging tool for their FX risk, can choose Forex E-micro futures as a versatile and accessible new resource to manage their exposure. And they can do this with the full investor safeguards of operating in CME Group’s regulated environment while benefiting from the transparency and deep liquidity offered by our futures market.”

“With the emergence of FX as a global asset class and the ever-present need to manage FX risk, futures customers will gain access to the global FX markets in a cost-effective, secure manner,” said Christopher Larkin, Vice President, E*TRADE Securities LLC. “We believe that Forex E-micro futures traded at CME provide an ideal introduction to FX and we are pleased to be able to work with CME Group in offering them to our customers.”

“CME Group continues to roll out innovative products for both the institutional and retail futures trader,” said Joseph Cusick, Senior Vice President of Education, OptionsXpress. “We are very excited about offering the new E-Micro FX futures products to our clients.”

“With Forex E-micro futures traded at CME, for the first time we will be able to offer our customers the standards of security and pricing they deserve when entering into a new asset class for the first time,” said Greg Sabatello, President and CEO, Transaction Futures. “Electronically traded and cleared via a central counterparty, these new products ensure on a globally recognized legitimate exchange with transparent fees, which should appeal to spot traders.”

The Forex E-micro contracts will be one-tenth the size of the corresponding CME FX contracts, making them accessible to active individual traders, small Commodity Trading Advisers (CTAs), and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The contracts will be exclusively traded on the CME Globex® electronic trading platform, the world’s largest regulated FX marketplace, which also offers the security of centralized clearing and guaranteed counterparty credit. The new contracts are set to launch in the first quarter of 2009.

The Forex E-Micro contracts will be quoted in interbank or “over the counter” (OTC) terms, making it easy for customers to integrate them into their systems and portfolios. Contracts will be launched in the following six currency pairs: EUR/USD, GBP/USD, AUD/USD, USD/JPY, USD/CHF and USD/CAD.

All Forex E-micro contracts will be cash-settled and EUR/USD, GBP/USD and AUD/USD contracts will be fully fungible with CME Group’s full-sized FX contracts, and margins and exchange fees will be scaled down in proportion with the full-sized versions at roughly one-tenth of the full cost. USD/JPY, USD/CHF and USD/CAD all have a high percentage of margin offset with the larger CME Group FX contracts.

CME Group FX is the largest regulated FX marketplace and one of the top two FX platforms in the world with more than $100 billion in daily liquidity. With the addition of the Forex E-micro contracts, the CME Group FX product suite will consist of 49 futures contracts and 32 options contracts based on 20 currencies.

Hedge Fund Administrator Charity

As described in the press release reprinted below a hedge fund administrator is providing reduced fees to clients who donate their set up fees to Hedge Funds Care, a charity which benefits abused children.  Hedge Funds Care puts on a number of events throughout the US.  The San Francisco Hedge Funds Care group will be putting on an event on March 11 – more on this event to be forthcoming.


Hedge Fund Administrator Offers Discount Pricing to Emerging Hedge Fund Managers Who Donate Set-up Fees to Hedge Funds Care

NEW YORK, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ — Variman LLC, ( a boutique provider of hedge fund administration, middle and back office services, joins together with Hedge Funds Care ( to increase awareness of child abuse and assist its efforts to prevent and treat child abuse.

Variman Fund Services will offer discounted monthly service fees to emerging managers who donate the standard set-up fee to Hedge Funds Care on behalf of Variman LLC for a limited time.
Given the difficult times our industry is currently facing, Variman Fund Services, in an effort to support both the needs of the marketplace and those of abused children, believes this initiative will be worthwhile and bring solid value to all involved.

For further information, please log on to and provide contact information as needed for a quick response. This is a limited time offer and applies to emerging hedge fund managers requiring hedge fund administration. All information will be held strictly confidential.

About Variman LLC

Variman LLC, headquartered in Short Hills, NJ, USA with offices in Dubai and India, brings a fresh perspective to Capital Markets Operations and Hedge Fund Administration with its unique service platform to provide complete visibility to all aspects of post-trade processing including liquidity management and collateral optimization

Variman Fund Services remains one of the few administrators to offer bespoke white glove services according to client requirements and budget. Variman Fund Services can efficiently deal with multiple brokers, global middle and back office operations and accounting functions across asset all classes and time zones.

About Hedge Funds Care

Founder Rob Davis established Hedge Funds Care in 1998 with the dream of helping to prevent and treat child abuse. With the encouragement and participation of his colleagues in the hedge fund industry, the first Open Your Heart to the Children Benefit took place in New York in February of 1999 and raised $542,000. What began as a single fundraiser has grown into an international nonprofit organization. Hedge Funds Care has distributed over $18 million through more than 500 grants. In 2009, annual benefits will take place in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Toronto, London and the Cayman Islands. Through the ongoing generosity and commitment of hedge fund industry professionals, HFC continues its rapid expansion. We anticipate future growth to cities in the U.S. and abroad.

Another Massive Fraud Alledged in the Securities Industry

The SEC release is below.  For more additional reading and insight into this story, please see the Standford SEC Memorandum of Law.


SEC Charges R. Allen Stanford, Stanford International Bank for Multi-Billion Dollar Investment Scheme


Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2009 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Robert Allen Stanford and three of his companies for orchestrating a fraudulent, multi-billion dollar investment scheme centering on an $8 billion CD program.
Additional Materials

Stanford’s companies include Antiguan-based Stanford International Bank (SIB), Houston-based broker-dealer and investment adviser Stanford Group Company (SGC), and investment adviser Stanford Capital Management. The SEC also charged SIB chief financial officer James Davis as well as Laura Pendergest-Holt, chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group (SFG), in the enforcement action.

Pursuant to the SEC’s request for emergency relief for the benefit of defrauded investors, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor entered a temporary restraining order, froze the defendants’ assets, and appointed a receiver to marshal those assets.

“As we allege in our complaint, Stanford and the close circle of family and friends with whom he runs his businesses perpetrated a massive fraud based on false promises and fabricated historical return data to prey on investors,” said Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We are moving quickly and decisively in this enforcement action to stop this fraudulent conduct and preserve assets for investors.”

Rose Romero, Regional Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office, added, “We are alleging a fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in Dallas, alleges that acting through a network of SGC financial advisers, SIB has sold approximately $8 billion of so-called “certificates of deposit” to investors by promising improbable and unsubstantiated high interest rates. These rates were supposedly earned through SIB’s unique investment strategy, which purportedly allowed the bank to achieve double-digit returns on its investments for the past 15 years.

According to the SEC’s complaint, the defendants have misrepresented to CD purchasers that their deposits are safe, falsely claiming that the bank re-invests client funds primarily in “liquid” financial instruments (the portfolio); monitors the portfolio through a team of 20-plus analysts; and is subject to yearly audits by Antiguan regulators. Recently, as the market absorbed the news of Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme, SIB attempted to calm its own investors by falsely claiming the bank has no “direct or indirect” exposure to the Madoff scheme.

According to the SEC’s complaint, SIB is operated by a close circle of Stanford’s family and friends. SIB’s investment committee, responsible for the management of the bank’s multi-billion dollar portfolio of assets, is comprised of Stanford; Stanford’s father who resides in Mexia, Texas; another Mexia resident with business experience in cattle ranching and car sales; Pendergest-Holt, who prior to joining SFG had no financial services or securities industry experience; and Davis, who was Stanford’s college roommate.

The SEC’s complaint also alleges an additional scheme relating to $1.2 billion in sales by SGC advisers of a proprietary mutual fund wrap program, called Stanford Allocation Strategy (SAS), by using materially false historical performance data. According to the complaint, the false data helped SGC grow the SAS program from less than $10 million in 2004 to more than $1 billion, generating fees for SGC (and ultimately Stanford) of approximately $25 million in 2007 and 2008. The fraudulent SAS performance was used to recruit registered investment advisers with significant books of business, who were then heavily incentivized to reallocate their clients’ assets to SIB’s CD program.

The SEC’s complaint charges violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Advisers Act, and registration provisions of the Investment Company Act. In addition to emergency and interim relief that has been obtained, the SEC seeks a final judgment permanently enjoining the defendants from future violations of the relevant provisions of the federal securities laws and ordering them to pay financial penalties and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest.

The Commission acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in connection with this matter.

The SEC’s investigation is continuing. FINRA independently developed information through its examination and investigative processes that contributed significantly to the filing of this enforcement action.

# # #

For more information, contact:

Rose Romero, Regional Director
Steve Korotash, Associate Regional Director, Enforcement
SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office

Four CFTC Actions against CPOs and CTAs

This past week and a half has proven to be a busy time for the CFTC’s enforcement divisions as a number of actions have been released to the public.  The four actions below showcase the unlawful and unsavory behavior of four groups.  Specifically, two of the actions below provide details of two more Ponzi schemes and the other two actions involve misrepresentations and lies.  As we’ve discussed before hedge fund investors have many tools to protect themselves from these sorts of actions.  Simple hedge fund due diligence will go a long way towards protecting an investment.


Release: 5612-09
For Release: February 11, 2009

CFTC Orders Former Bank Trader and New York City Resident to Pay $360,000 Penalty in Connection with False Trading Reports Submitted to His Former Employer, Bank of America

Washington, DC — The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today settled charges against Michael Moster for submitting false reports to the Bank of America in Chicago, where he once worked as a trader, and ordered Moster to pay a $360,000 civil penalty.

The CFTC issued an order on February 11, 2009, which finds that, during a three-day period in January 2004, Moster, a former proprietary trader for the Bank of America, falsely reported to the bank that he purchased 4,000 Treasury futures contracts to conceal the risk associated with large unauthorized positions in Treasury bonds that he established over the same time period, by making it appear as if the long futures position hedged the Treasury bond risk. By the following week, the fictitious trades inflated the value of his trading book by over $12 million, the order finds. The sale of Moster’s unauthorized Treasury bond position resulted in a loss of approximately $12.2 million to the Bank of America.

Based upon the same conduct, Moster pled guilty on September 18, 2008, to a one-count violation of making false entry into the books and records of a bank in the Southern District of New York. Under the criminal sentencing guidelines, Moster will be required to make full restitution of the over $12 million loss he caused to the Bank of America. The CFTC’s order recognizes the restitution made in the context of the criminal case and provides that Moster must pay and satisfy any criminal restitution obligation before his payment of the CFTC civil monetary penalty.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Ken Koh, Todd Kelly, Peter Haas, Paul Hayeck, and Joan Manley.


Release: 5610-09
For Release: February 10, 2009

CFTC Seeks Freeze of Assets in Oklahoma Ponzi Scheme Involving Over $30 Million

Mark Trimble of Edmond, Oklahoma Posted Profits, While Losing Millions in Phidippides Capital Hedge Fund

Washington, DC – The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that today it filed an enforcement action against Mark S. Trimble, of Edmond, Oklahoma, and his company, Phidippides Capital Management LLC (PCM), with offices in Oklahoma City. Trimble, who controlled Phidippides, also managed a private hedge fund named Phidippides Capital LP, which the CFTC’s complaint alleges was a Ponzi scheme.

CFTC Seeks Court Order Freezing Defendants’ Assets

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, the CFTC is seeking a statutory restraining order freezing defendants’ assets and preserving records. Trimble has consented to the entry of an asset freeze order.

The CFTC’s complaint alleges that, from at least 2005 to the present, Trimble and PCM operated a $34 million hedge fund with approximately 60 investors and traded partly in the name of Phidippides Capital, a Delaware company incorporated by Trimble. Since at least October 2007, Trimble and PCM allegedly issued false account statements, failed to disclose the fund’s actual multi-million trading losses, and operated the fund as a Ponzi scheme, paying participant redemptions based on the fund’s fabricated profitability. Additionally, defendants allegedly received over $1 million in management fees based on false reports of trading profits.

Trimble Used Email to Notify Investors that He Had Not Been “Honest” About the Fund’s Trading Results

According to the complaint, Trimble’s activities were exposed in late January 2009, after Trimble provided the Federal Bureau of Investigation a fictitious 2008 year-end trading account showing millions of dollars in trading profits that did not square with actual trading statements issued by Trimble’s brokerage firm that disclosed millions of dollars in trading losses. Trimble subsequently stated in an email sent to his brokerage firm, and addressed to “Family, Friends, and Clients,” that he had not been “honest” about the hedge fund’s trading results, explaining: “The reason our balances are off is because I could not look myself in the mirror and face all of you and notify you that in the last quarter of 2008 we lost all the profits for the year and then some.”

Stephen J. Obie, CFTC Acting Director of the Division of Enforcement commented: “Through the swift action of CFTC staff, millions of dollars have been frozen, which ultimately we will seek to return to the victims Trimble deceived by his scheme. The CFTC continues to zealously prosecute these lecherous schemes, so that as many assets can be preserved as possible as we fulfill our vital mission to protect customers from fraud and abuse.”

The CFTC’s complaint seeks civil monetary penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, restitution to defrauded customers, and injunctive relief, among other sanctions.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Rosemary Hollinger, Scott Williamson, Richard Wagner, and Ken Hampton. CFTC Auditors Thomas J. Bloom, Shauna Wright-Regas, and Lauren Corn also are working on this matter.


Release: 5609-09
For Release: February 6, 2009

CFTC Obtains Judgment Against Albert E. Parish and Parish Economics LLC for Operating a Commodity Pool Scam in CFTC Anti-Fraud Action

Parish Currently Serving a Sentence of More than 24 years in Federal Prison for Related Criminal Violations

Washington, DC — The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced today that the Honorable David C. Norton of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina entered an order settling charges alleging that Albert E. Parish and Parish Economics LLC, both of Charleston, South Carolina, lied to customers and misappropriated millions of dollars in customer funds (see CFTC Press Release 5320-07, April 19, 2007).

According to the order entered on February 2, 2009, between 1986 and March 2007, Parish and Parish Economics fraudulently solicited approximately $40 million in investments for their commodity futures pool. Parish and Parish Economics misrepresented to pool participants that funds would be invested in commodity futures when, in reality, Parish misappropriated the vast majority of funds for his personal use. Parish and Parish Economics also provided false futures account statements to pool participants and failed to provide required pool disclosure documents.

The order permanently bars Parish and Parish Economics from further violating certain provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act and the CFTC’s regulations and from engaging in any commodity-related activity. Parish is currently serving a sentence of more than 24 years in federal prison for related criminal violations. In lieu of an award of restitution and civil monetary penalties, the order recognizes that Parish will be subject to a criminal judgment restitution obligation in excess of $40 million.

The CFTC would like to thank James A. Rue of the Securities and Exchange Commission and John H. Douglas of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina for their assistance in this matter.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members are responsible for this case: Jo Mettenburg, Jeff Le Riche, Charles Marvine, Donald Nash, Rick Glaser, and Richard Wagner.


Release: 5608-09
For Release: February 5, 2009

CFTC Charges Minnesota Resident Charles “Chuck” E. Hays and His Company, Crossfire Trading, LLC, with Running a $5.5 Million Ponzi Scheme

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed an enforcement action today against Charles “Chuck” E. Hays and Crossfire Trading, LLC (Crossfire), both of Rosemount, Minnesota, charging them with fraud and misappropriation in connection with a commodity pool Ponzi scheme.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the CFTC is seeking a statutory restraining order freezing defendants’ assets and preserving records.

The CFTC’s complaint alleges that, from January 2006 to the present, Hays and his company, Crossfire, a purported commodity pool, fraudulently solicited and accepted more than $5.5 million from at least three individuals and a charitable foundation for the purpose of trading stock index and crude oil futures.

Hays, according to the complaint, convinced at least one person to invest in Crossfire by representing verbally and in fabricated account statements — issued on Crossfire’s letterhead — that Crossfire earned consistent profits trading commodity futures with no losing months. However, as charged in the complaint, Crossfire has never had an active commodity futures trading account. Additionally, in an attempt to alleviate at least two investors’ suspicions as to what Hays was actually doing with their money, Hays provided an account statement for the Crossfire pool fabricated to appear as if it were issued by a legitimate brokerage company by using that brokerage’s letterhead. This false account statement indicated that Crossfire maintained a trading account at the brokerage with over $37 million. As alleged, that account is nonexistent.

Furthermore, the complaint charges Hays with misappropriating investor funds to purchase a $4 million yacht, and for other purposes.

“Hays ran his Ponzi scheme from his yacht, but was grounded when the tide turned as Federal authorities exposed this egregious fraud,” said CFTC Acting Director of Enforcement Stephen J. Obie.

The CFTC complaint seeks orders requiring the defendants to provide the CFTC with continuing access to books and records and to make an accounting with information necessary to determine the actual amounts of net contributions and profits or losses. The CFTC also requests that the court issue orders of preliminary and permanent injunction against the defendants, a return of alleged ill-gotten gains, repayments to defrauded investors, monetary penalties, and other relief.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, the Department of Justice, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this action. Hays was arrested this morning by Federal authorities.

The following CFTC Division of Enforcement staff is responsible for this case: Susan Gradman, Neville Hedley, Judith McCorkle, Venice Bickham, Scott Williamson, Rosemary Hollinger, and Richard Wagner.