The White Law Group is investigating possible securities fraud claims involving the Oppenheimer Champion Income Fund (OCHBX, OPCHX and OCHCX) and the Oppenheimer Core Bond Fund (OPIGX). Although marketed to investors as conservative investments, the Champion Fund and Core Bond Fund were extremely risky ventures, investing in illiquid derivatives and high risk credit default swaps.
As a result of misrepresentations regarding these funds, many investors who thought they were receiving a conservative high income fund have suffered extraordinary losses. The Oppenheimer Champion Fund dropped 55% in November of 2008 alone. The Core Bond Fund lost more than 35 percent of its value in 2008 and another 10 percent in the first three months of 2009.
The verbal representations made by financial advisors, the marketing material used by these stockbrokers, and even the prospectus issued by Oppenheimer, portrayed the Oppenheimer Champion Income Fund and Oppenheimer Core Bond Fund as no riskier than the average high income fund. As such, the funds were improperly marketed to many investors (including retirees) that could not afford the risk to which they were then subjected.
The losses incurred in the Champion fund appear to be the result of large bets in high risk derivatives in the form of mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps. These are highly illiquid, speculative and complex agreements between parties to exchange cash flows in the future based on how a set of securities performs. It appears that the Champion Fund was betting that top-rated commercial mortgage-backed securities would rally in 2008. The Fund took an extraordinary risk that was not in line with the objectives set forth in the Prospectus, and a risk that was not disclosed to the investing public.
Additionally, the Champion Fund was also concentrated in credit-default swaps (CDSs). CDSs are basically insurance contracts that protect investors against bond and loan defaults. As the market for commercial properties deteriorated amid the slowing economy, the Fund’s value dropped precipitously. It appears that the Fund was even selling CDSs on troubled companies like Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and the Tribune Co. Many of those firms have since collapsed or filed for bankruptcy.
Investors from throughout the country have been affected by this Oppenheimer securities fraud, including investors in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, California, Washington, and New York. Many of the investors purchased the investment at the recommendation of their broker-dealer or financial advisor, and these entities have potential liability for failing to properly perform due diligence regarding the Oppenheimer funds prior to recommending them to their clients. Other investors purchased shares of the Oppenheimer Core Bond Fund through their 529 college savings plans, such as those in Oregon, Texas, Maine, Illinois and New Mexico, or through their retirement plans or annuities.
Apparently, a class action involving Oppenheimer’s Champion Income fund recently settled and victims will receive approximately 3 cents on the dollar. Given this paltry settlement, Oppenheimer victims may want to consider arbitration claims against the brokerage firms that recommended these investment. The class action opt out date is August 31, 2011.
If you have any information that may assist The White Law Group in its investigation into these Oppenheimer funds, please contact our Chicago, Illinois office at 312-238-9650.
The White Law Group, LLC is a national securities fraud, securities arbitration, investor protection, and securities regulation/compliance law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Boca Raton, Florida. With over 30 years of securities law experience, including experience working at FINRA (f/k/a the NASD) and the SEC, The White Law Group has the expertise to help investors defrauded in securities, investment and financial business transactions. The firm primarily handles these cases on a contingency fee. For more information on The White Law Group, please visit our website at http://www.whitesecuritieslaw.com.