SIPC: CLAIMS FORMS TO GO OUT TO 2,300 INVESTORS IN EBERHARD/PARK SOUTH BROKERAGE FIRM COLLAPSE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - February 26, 2003 - The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund authorized by Congress to help investors at bankrupt brokerage firms, announced today that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York City has authorized a trustee to send out liquidation claim forms covering at least 2,278 customer accounts tied up in the recent Park South Securities, LLC, brokerage firm collapse.
As of February 5, 2003, the nearly 2,300 frozen Park South accounts contained an estimated total of $77 million. Court-appointed trustee Irving Picard, Esq., of the law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger and Vecchione, said that the process of unfreezing and transferring customer accounts to other firms will soon get underway.
Picard said: "The claim forms will go out to about 2,300 Park South customers on March 7, 2003. Park South customers will have six months, until September 7, 2003, to submit claims that qualify for SIPC protections. We will be encouraging investors who get the claims to review, complete and submit them as promptly as possible in order to qualify for full coverage."
SIPC General Counsel Steve Harbeck said: "The Park South case is a textbook illustration of why Congress created SIPC to protect investors at troubled brokerage firms. While misuse of customer cash and securities is uncommon, it is important for investors to know that SIPC is here as a safety net when they need us in these situations. SIPC's mission also was met here in terms of making sure that more than 2,000 Park South investors were not further victimized by having their assets tied up for months or longer in a bankrupt brokerage firm."
In addition to claim forms that will be provided by U.S. mail, information about the Park South liquidation proceeding will be available online at http://www.sipc.org on or about March 7, 2003. Claimants are encouraged to use the Web site to print claim forms rather than calling the office of the trustee.
On February 5, 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency action charging securities fraud, including looting of customer brokerage accounts, against broker and television investment personality Todd M. Eberhard and his brokerage and investment advisory firms, Park South Securities, a registered broker-dealer and registered investment adviser, and Eberhard Investment Associates, Inc., an investment adviser that was not registered with the SEC. The complaint also names Stone House Capital Partners LP, a Park South affiliated hedge fund, as a relief defendant that received transfers of Park South customer funds at Eberhard's direction.
From its creation by Congress in 1970 through December 2001, SIPC has advanced $513 million in order to make possible the recovery of $14.0 billion in assets for an estimated 622,000 investors. SIPC estimates that more than 99 percent of eligible investors have been made whole in the failed brokerage firm cases that it has handled to date.
SIPC is an important part of the overall system of investor protection in the United States. While a number of federal, self-regulatory and state securities agencies deal with cases of investment fraud, SIPC's focus is both different and narrow: Restoring funds to investors with assets in the hands of bankrupt and otherwise financially-troubled brokerage firms. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation was not chartered by Congress to combat fraud.
SIPC either acts as trustee or works with an independent court-appointed trustee to recover funds. The statute that created SIPC provides that customers of a failed brokerage firm receive all non-negotiable securities that are already registered in their names or in the process of being registered. At the same time, funds from the SIPC reserve are available to satisfy the remaining claims of each customer up to a maximum of $500,000. This figure includes a maximum of $100,000 on claims for cash.
Recovered funds are used to pay investors whose claims exceed SIPC's protection limit of $500,000. SIPC often draws down its reserve to aid investors. Recovered funds also are used to replenish SIPC's reserve in the event that the reserve is tapped in the early stages of a liquidation proceeding.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Ailis Aaron, The Hastings Group,
(703) 276-1116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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