City of Miami and Michael Boudreaux – South Florida (Miami) Municipal Bond Offering Fraud and Misrepresentation Litigation and FINRA Arbitration Attorney:
Securities and Exchange Commission v. City of Miami, Florida, and Michael Boudreaux, Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-22600 (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, filed July 19, 2013)
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it recently charged the City of Miami and its former Budget Director with securities fraud in connection with several municipal bond offerings and other disclosures made to the bond investing public. The SEC’s action also charges the City with violating a 2003 SEC Cease-and-Desist Order which was entered against the City based on similar misconduct. This case is the SEC’s first ever injunctive action against a municipality already under an existing SEC cease-and-desist order.
The SEC alleges in its complaint that beginning in 2008, the City and Michael Boudreaux made materially false and misleading statements and omissions concerning certain interfund transfers in three 2009 bond offerings totaling $153.5 million, as well as in the City’s fiscal year 2007 and 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (“CAFRs”) distributed to broad segments of the investing public, including investors in previously issued City debt. The interfund transfers moved monies from the City’s Capital Improvement Fund to its General Fund. Boudreaux orchestrated the transfers in order to mask the increasing deficits in the City’s General Fund, its primary operating fund, viewed by investors and bond rating agencies as a key indicator of financial health, at a time when the City was actively marketing bonds to the investing public.
The SEC’s complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges that the City, through Boudreaux, transferred a total of approximately $37.5 million from its Capital Improvement Fund and a Special Revenue Fund to the General Fund in 2007 and 2008 in order to mask increasing deficits in the General Fund. The SEC also alleges that the City and Boudreaux omitted to disclose to bondholders that the transferred funds included legally restricted dollars which, under City Code, may not be commingled with any other funds or revenues of the City. They also failed to disclose that the funds transferred were allocated to specific capital projects which still needed those funds as of the fiscal year end or, in some instances, already spent that money. The transfers enabled the City to meet or come close to meeting its own requirements relating to General Fund reserve levels. In the wake of the transfers, the City’s bond offerings were all rated favorably by credit rating agencies.
After reversing most of the transfers following a report by its Office of Independent Auditor General (OIAG), the City had to declare a state of fiscal urgency once it failed to meet statutorily mandated fund levels in its General Fund, and bond rating agencies downgraded their ratings on the City’s debt.
The SEC’s complaint charges the City with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. It also charges the City with violating the SEC’s 2003 Cease-and-Desist Order. The complaint charges Boudreaux with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and violations and aiding and abetting violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC’s complaint seeks injunctive relief and financial penalties against the City and Boudreaux, and an order commanding the City to comply with the SEC’s 2003 Order.
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