Senior living bond offerings spur second lawsuit against bank holding company

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A second lawsuit has been filed against a bank holding company in relation to a series of senior living-related bond offerings, some of which were later determined to be fraudulent and some of which have been alleged to be fraudulent, according to Tulsa World.

A civil class-action lawsuit was filed Monday against BOK Financial “for aiding fraud, negligence and breaching its fiduciary duty,” the media outlet reported. The municipal bond investors who filed the suit reportedly are seeking more than $5 million.

BOKF told the newspaper that it will “vigorously defend the lawsuit and are confident we will prevail.”

The lawsuit relates to bond offerings noted in a complaint made by the Securities and Exchange Commission in January. The SEC alleged that Dwayne Edwards and business partner Todd Barker, along with the limited liability companies they set up to serve as borrowers, raised nearly $62 million through nine bond offerings meant to buy or renovate assisted living and memory care communities. Edwards, however, diverted some of the money for personal use and to finance other unrelated bond offerings, the SEC alleged. The SEC has charged him with fraud and has frozen his assets.

Eight of the bond offerings in the case involved purchases from Christopher Brogdon, who is named as an “other relevant actor” in the case, the SEC said.

The lawsuit filed Monday, according to Tulsa World, alleges that Brogdon, Barker and Edwards “used money from the bonds for unauthorized activities such as financing other projects and personal expenses, and that BOKF was required to alert investors and failed to do so.”

BOKF, however, told the media outlet that the complaint is without merit.

The new lawsuit against BOKF, filed in federal court, follows a separate complaint filed in September in Tulsa County District Court in which a group of 19 bondholders is seeking $5 million.

“The bank expects the court-ordered payment plan will result in the payment of the bonds by the principals,” the bank said in a 10-K filing with the SEC, referring to a September order from the commission that required BOKF, NA, to pay more than $1.6 million to settle charges that it had concealed several problems and red flags from investors in Brogdon bond offerings.

Brogdon was charged with fraud in November 2015 and subsequently was ordered by a federal court to repay $85 million to investors for diverting their money, intended to purchase and renovate senior living communities, to other business ventures and personal expenses.

Earlier this month, the SEC ordered Marrien Neilson, senior vice president at subsidiary BOKF, NA, to pay a $55,000 fine and never work in corporate trust work related to municipal securities again. Neilson, the commission said, was mainly responsible for the failures of the bank's corporate trust department while overseeing the bond offerings managed by Brogdon.

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