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Posted by Kathy Bazoian Phelps    Below is a summary of the activity reported for November 2015. The reported stories reflect: 3 guilty pleas or convictions in pending cases; over 77 years of newly imposed sentences for people involved in Ponzi schemes; at least 9 new Ponzi schemes worldwide; and an average age of approximately 54 for the alleged Ponzi schemers. Please feel free to post comments about these or other Ponzi schemes that I may have missed. And please remember that I am just relaying what’s in the news, not writing or verifying it.    Troy Barnes, 53, was indicted in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme operated through Work with Troy Barnes Inc., which later changed its name to The Achieve CommunityKristine Louis Johnson, 60, pleaded guilty to charges in June 2015. The scheme defrauded over 10,000 investors who lost at least $7 million, having been promised returns of up to 700%. At the time the scheme shut down for the self-stated reason that it could not handle “the volume of money we’re paying our members,” the company owed promised returns of about $51 million.     John Paul Baron, 55, was sentenced to 6 years in prison in connection with a $3 million Ponzi scheme. Baron had promised annual tax free returns of 15% to 28%.

Read More from: The Ponzi Blog

10 hours 36 min ago
Are you considering debt relief through a consumer credit counseling  or debt consolidation service ?  You may be surprised to learn that they can do more harm than good to your credit.  Many times, bankruptcy is a better option, and we will be happy to sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your personal financial situation in order to help you decide what is the best solution for your financial problems.  In analyzing your particular situation, we always consider if there is an alternative to filing bankruptcy.  The decision to file bankruptcy is a difficult choice for many people to make.  A bankruptcy will affect, in some fashion, your future credit.  Bankruptcy, though,  does not totally destroy your ability to get credit in the future.  The decision to file bankruptcy must be carefully made in consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. photo credit: hang_in_there via photopin cc
11 hours 52 min ago
Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, takes issue with American Banker 's recent story about errors in the agency's complaint database.

Read More from: BankThink

12 hours 27 min ago
Frequently, when I am meeting with a prospective client, this question will be asked. Often, those prospective clients are worried about keeping a credit card for emergency use. Or, they are under the mistaken belief that if their home or car is included in their case, then they will lose their car or home. These concerns are completely understandable on their part. However, these really shouldn’t be of concern in a bankruptcy case. Keeping a credit card is not going to be possible because the credit card issuer will suspend your credit privileges when you file your bankruptcy case. Regardless of that, it would not be a good idea anyway. Adding more debt while you are in a bankruptcy case is contrary to the main purpose of getting yourself to debt freedom, which is why you filed your case in the first place. Including your home mortgage and/or car debt is necessary to ensure that these debts are properly handled or you will face negative (and usually very serious) consequences during or after your bankruptcy case is over. List All Debts

Read More from: Bonds & Botes, P.C.

16 hours 59 min ago
An essential element to any cramdown plan is the presence of at least one impaired accepting class.  Even when a plan proponent purports to satisfy this requirement, objecting parties will often challenge the plan’s classification scheme or whether a particular class is truly impaired.  A recent decision from the Southern District of New York, In re Ashley River Consulting, LLC, serves as a reminder that when a secured creditor is retaining its collateral under a plan, the secured creditor’s agreement to accept less than it is entitled to – by making a contribution to other creditors – can render the secured creditor impaired and provide the impaired accepting class necessary for cramdown if that secured creditor votes to accept the plan.  Background
17 hours 3 min ago
Get in tax trouble and the penalties often grow to equal the tax. What starts as a manageable problem can soon tower over you. Breathe deep;  there is a solution. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can cut tax penalties down to size. All tax penalties discharged in 13 Old or new, large or small, Chapter 13 discharges all unsecured tax penalties. In contrast, Chapter 7 discharges some tax penalties.  Discharged are penalties for taxes that are themselves dischargeable. Also dischargeable in Chapter 7 are penalties where the transaction or event that triggered the tax occurred more than three years before filing, whether or not the tax itself is dischargeable.  523(a)(7)(B). That’s good, but if you are eligible, Chapter 13 is better.  All penalties are discharged. Who can file Chapter 13
17 hours 24 min ago
With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's disclosure rule potentially slowing down the loan process, institutions need to focus on communication strategies to keep young borrowers at the closing table.

Read More from: BankThink

18 hours 9 min ago
Receiving Wide Coverage ... Brazilian Bank CEO Jailed: The chief executive of Brazil's largest independent investment bank has resigned after being arrested last week. Andre Esteves left his post at the helm of BTG Pactual, the Wall Street Journal reports. Esteves is the bank's controlling shareholder and also served as chairman. The Brazilian banker has found himself caught up in investigations regarding corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras). His resignation follows a decision...

Read More from: BankThink

18 hours 18 min ago
Most loan contracts include provisions allowing the collection of attorneys’ fees in the event the borrower defaults.  These attorney fee provisions are routinely enforced in collection suits brought in state courts. However the federal bankruptcy courts operate independent of the state court debt collection system.  Bankruptcy cases often generate a variety of controversies that will not occur in a state court collection suit.  Thus, the issue frequently has arisen whether a general unsecured creditor may be allowed a state law-based contract claim against the bankruptcy estate for the attorneys’ fees the creditor incurs during a bankruptcy case. In the bankruptcy proceeding of the Tribune Media Company, an indenture trustee filed a proof of claim for more than $30 million of attorneys’ fees it had incurred in connection with that bankruptcy.  The trust indenture included customary text permitting the indenture trustee to recover costs and expenses of collection.   On November 19, 2015, the highly-influential U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware issued an opinion, disallowing the indenture trustee’s claim for attorneys’ fees.

Read More from: eSQUIRE Global Crossings

18 hours 33 min ago
NextEra Energy Inc. said Friday it has agreed to sell two Texas natural gas power plants to Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Luminant unit for $1.59 billion. Read the story in The Wall Street Journal. (Daily Bankruptcy Review is a daily newsletter with comprehensive coverage and analysis of emerging and in-progress insolvencies and turnarounds. For a two-week trial, visit, scroll to the bottom and click “try for free.”) A federal judge ruled that TelexFree LLC ran a vast pyramid scheme that ensnared investors around the world, a finding that has been widely anticipated since the company collapsed into chapter 11 protection last year. Read the Daily Bankruptcy Review story via WSJ. Abengoa SA’s chief executive resigned Friday as the embattled Spanish renewable energy and engineering firm begins to negotiate with creditors, the Journal reports.

Read More from: Bankruptcy Beat

19 hours 6 min ago
To be in the credit counseling business you have to be a nonprofit.  Credit card companies will frequently refuse to set up repayment plans with for-profit debt counselors.  Mandatory bankruptcy credit counseling courses may only be sponsored by nonprofits.  And the common perception is that “real” credit counselors should be nonprofit agencies. There are historical reasons for these perceptions.  At one time credit counseling was sponsored by donations from banks and community grants.  Small community agencies offered face-to-face counseling that went beyond the financial issues as counselors delved into the personal issues that caused financial distress.  Counselors acted as social workers who taught basic budgeting concepts and sought to redeem the wayward debtor. Jane McNamara, GreenPath CEO. Earned $590,883 in 2010 The reality of today’s credit counseling industry are much different.  Personal credit counseling is a thing of the past. Oh sure, they still go through the motions.  A budget worksheet may be prepared and handouts about saving money, cutting coupons, establishing savings accounts, etc, are shared, but that is just the window dressing.  No real face-to-face counseling occurs.
1 day 8 hours ago
Have you ever opened your credit card statement only to find that despite last month’s payment, your unpaid balance has actually increased because of credit card interest, penalties or fees?As a practicing consumer bankruptcy attorney in Atlanta, Georgia for over 25 years, I know that out of control credit card debt can force people in to Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In many cases credit card debt that was manageable becomes unmanageable because of common mistakes made by individuals in how they handle their credit card debt.If you can avoid these mistakes you may be able to avoid the stress and financial distress caused by excessive credit card debt.How Credit Card Debt and Credit Card Interest can Get Out of ControlThe first step towards controlling your credit card debt involves your spending. This may seem obvious but many of my bankruptcy clients fail to recognize this reality. If you find yourself carrying a balance (rather than paying off your debt in full at the end of the month) you need o change your usage habits.  If you carry a balance you will end up paying unnecessary and expensive credit card interest.Your credit card is not a substitute for cash – instead your credit cards represent a high interest loan with a 20 days repayment term. Interest on unpaid balances will eat you alive.

Read More from: The BK blog

1 day 8 hours ago
The New York Times recently ran a very sad, if extreme and unrepresentative, story of student loan debt. There's lots one can say about the article, but two points really jumped out at me.  First, it's a real problem that the Department of Education cannot refuse to lend on the basis of a borrower's unsustainable debt load.  The DoE should be allowed to refuse to lend to overleveraged consumers, both as a consumer protection matter and as a protection of the public fisc. There's a problem begging for a bipartisan legislative fix.  Second, by my back of the envelope calculations, the DoE simply cannot collect most of the debt from Ms. Kelly. Let's assume that the only real source of recovery for the DoE is by garnishing Ms. Kelly's income. Her other assets are either legally off-limits to creditors or not valuable enough to go after. As far as I can tell, the maximum garnishment amount will not even cover the interest accruing on the loans. In other words, her loans will negatively amortize even with full-bore collection activity. 

Read More from: Credit Slips

1 day 10 hours ago
The financial wonkosphere just doesn't get it about Glass-Steagall.  Pieces like this one by Matt O'Brien concentrate on the questions of whether Glass-Steagall would have prevented the last crisis or whether it is better than other approaches to reducing systemic risk.  That misses the point entirely about why a return to Glass-Steagall is so important. No one argues that Glass-Steagall is, in itself, a cure-all.  Instead, the importance of a return to Glass-Steagall is political. But totally absent in much of the wonkospheric discussion is any awareness of the political impact of busting up the big banks.   Let's be clear about why Glass-Steagall matters:  the route to campaign finance reform runs through Glass-Steagall.

Read More from: Credit Slips

1 day 10 hours ago
Let’s talk about the morality of being in – and being unable to get out of – debt. There’s no clause in a credit card contract that speaks to morality or ethics. There are bad people who have credit cards and pay them on time. There are also good people who can’t make their payments on time. This is, after all, a business deal. There’s a contract, and everyone agrees to be bound by whatever it says. If you pay back the money according to the terms of the agreement then the lender makes a profit. You, in turn, get the benefit of being able to use the money for awhile. Still, my clients can’t shake the feeling that bankruptcy is somehow dishonest. After all, don’t good people pay their bills? When you take a closer look at the Bible it’s easier to see that bankruptcy is acceptable What Does the Bible Say About Bankruptcy? Most bankruptcy lawyers can rattle off a bunch of verses about how the Bible looks at bankruptcy. Deuteronomy 15:1-2 talks about the Lord’s Release, and how every seven years each creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. In Luke 7:42, the Bible says, “When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” And Romans 13:8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” Bankruptcy, in other words, isn’t terrible when viewed in a vacuum. Nobody is a sinner because they walk into bankruptcy court.
2 days 38 min ago
Exemptions in bankruptcy are all about what you keep. Exemptions define the collection of assets and rights that are safe from the reach of a bankruptcy trustee or your creditors. But planning exemptions in a bankruptcy case is more than just the looking down the list of things you keep through bankruptcy and the dollar amount that is protected. Jay Fleichman suggested that if the value of your assets exceeded the exemptions available, Chapter 13 needed to be your chapter of choice. Really, it’s the value of the assets, and then, the little extra, that you get to keep because of exemptions. Add transaction costs to asset value When comparing the value of your assets to the list of exemptions available to you, remember the unwritten exemption:  transaction costs.
2 days 16 hours ago
As detailed in this previous post, the Liquidating Trustee appointed to prosecute preference actions in the RadioShack bankruptcy proceeding filed approximately 383 preference actions in late October and early November of this year. Through these complaints, the Liquidating Trustee seeks to avoid and recover alleged preferential transfers pursuant to Sections 547 and 550 of the Bankruptcy Code, and to disallow claims pursuant to Section 502(d). Since the filing of these actions, a pretrial conference for these actions has been scheduled.  The pretrial conference is set for December 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM to be held at the United States Bankruptcy Court, 824 Market St., 6th Fl., Courtroom #1, Wilmington, Delaware. Moreover, the Liquidating Trustee filed a Motion for Orders Establishing Streamlined Procedures Governing Adversary Proceedings, which will impact among other things various procedural aspects of the case. The deadline to object to this motion is Monday, November 30, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. (ET).
3 days 7 hours ago
Complex multi-jurisdictional insolvencies are an inevitable consequence of the increasingly global nature of big business. The collapse of the likes of Barings, Enron and most recently Lehmans (the latter involving insolvency proceedings in some 16 jurisdictions) have highlighted the growing need for legislative action to promote cross-border co-operation and protect the interests of international creditors. Comprehensive reform is needed, not least to curtail the inequitable practice of forum shopping. In an ideal world, a global harmonised insolvency system is the logical next step in insolvency policy evolution. However, for the moment it is Europe that is leading the charge. Reform at a European level has been a long term goal since the 60’s but the European Commission’s 2014 recommendations placed harmonisation firmly at the top of the agenda. With international policy powerhouses such as Insol International, The Capital Markets Union and the UN Commission on International Trade also turning their attention to the issue, it seems that a European wide insolvency regime could at last become a reality.

Read More from: eSQUIRE Global Crossings

3 days 22 hours ago
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Read More from: Young, Klein & Associates

3 days 22 hours ago
(Kate B.’s “Turkey Art”) (2015) Late yesterday afternoon, I advanced $1,167 to reopen a Chapter 11 case on the issue of a post-confirmation settlement dispute. The timing really didn’t occur to me until 1 of the 23 ECF recipients emailed me a “Happy Thanksgiving” but also kidded “A Thanksgiving eve filing? Doesn’t Ward ever let you leave?” Touché. And so, that got me wondering (for “fun”): Who else is filing bankruptcy cases and pleadings when they should be at home quick-thawing a turkey (6 hours per pound?!!) or better yet, sitting down to carve it? With that question, Plan Proponent offers you its first “Happy Thanksgiving” blog post, in three parts: Part 1: “Black Friday” is Not a Legal Holiday (Unless You’re in California)

Read More from: Plan Proponent

4 days 15 hours ago