Susanne Posel: In June of 2012, Eric Bloom, former chief executive, and Charles Mosely, head trader of Sentinel Management Group (SMG) were indicted for stealing $500 million in customer secured funds. Both Mosely and Bloom were accused of “exposing” customer segregated funds “to a portfolio of highly risky derivatives.”
These customer funds were used to “back up personal investments” which were part of “collateral for a loan from Bank of New York Mellon” (BNYM). This loan derived from stolen customer monies was “used to purchase millions of dollars worth of high-risk, illiquid securities, including collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, for a trading portfolio that benefited Sentinel’s officers, including Mosley, Bloom and certain Bloom family members.”
Fast forward to August 9th of 2012, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (CCA) rules that BNYM can be moved to first in line of creditors over the customers that had their funds stolen by SMG.
When a banking customer deposits their money into their bank account, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SPIC) are in place to protect the customer from fraud or theft. The ruling from the CCA means that these regulatory systems will not insure customer funds, investments, depositors and retirees who hold accounts in banks. In fact, the banking institution is now legally allowed to use those customer funds deposited as collateral, payment on debts for loans made, or free use on the stock market to purchase investments as the bank sees fit.
Fred Grede, SMG trustee, explained that brokers are no longer required to keep customer money separate from their own. “It does not bode well for the protection of customer funds.”