Update: A federal appeals court denied Ray Lucia’s appeal to have his lifetime ban overturned in August 2016.
Mark Cuban, the outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner, is a regular on Shark Tank, a show where he’s regularly pitched by entrepreneurs seeking to expand their businesses.
Cuban and the other investors say “I’m in” or “I’m out” depending on whether they like the pitch or not.
Cuban is obviously a savvy investor, but he’s an explosive guy. He’s known in the sports world for his outbursts at NBA officials and referees that have cost him more than $1 million in fines.
Today, I learned that Cuban has filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Ray Lucia, a former San Diego investment adviser who was permanently banned from trading by federal securities regulators. This legal brief is the courtroom equivalent of an angry outburst at NBA official.
Cuban filed his brief this month in Lucia’s appellate lawsuit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Lucia argued that his lifetime ban should be thrown out since his case was heard by an administrative law judge, instead of an appointed officer, as required by the U.S. Constitution.
His brief, filed Feb. 8, states, “As a first-hand witness to and victim of SEC overreach, Mr. Cuban has an interest in supporting petitioners’ appeal in this case, and in particular demonstrating that both statutory language and legislative history clearly show that Congress specifically intended that SEC hearings only be held before constitutional officers.”
Seems like weak stuff to me, but Mark Cuban is a vindictive fellow and he has an axe to grind.
The SEC accused Cuban of insider trading when he sold his stake in a Canadian Internet company to avoid a $750,000 loss. Cuban maintained his innocence, and was acquitted by a federal jury in Texas three years ago.
Cuban goes on to state, “When the laws are applied inconsistently or the process by which they are enforced is rigged to favor the government, capital formation is impeded because market participants do not have clear rules for understanding their investment risks.”
This is the point where I say “I’m out.” Ray Lucia wasn’t some bold entrepreneur chasing the next big thing. He was making millions fleecing retirees out of their nest eggs.
I started writing critically about Lucia in 2010 after his attorney threatened to sue me for $300,00 . I figured that if someone would bother with a bozo like me something must be seriously wrong. Turns out, I was right.
Back then, Lucia was at the height of his power. He had thousands of accounts and $300 million in assets under management. In the 12 months leading up to January 31, 2010, his family of companies reported $14.1 million in gross income, according to court records.
Lucia made money mainly by collecting commissions on those who fell for his “Buckets of Money” strategy. He pitched retirees at flashy seminars, often with the help of his buddy, actor Ben Stein.
Elderly clients were convinced to invest in non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) that locked away their money for years. That’s not a great position for an elderly person who needs liquidity, but when REITs are generating $8.7 milllion in gross commissions for Lucia’s companies in 2010, you might overlook such details.
Lucia assured his clients they could retire in comfort because he had backtested his “Buckets of Money” strategy and it was based on “science, not art.” The SEC called his bluff and today, Lucia says he is nearly bankrupt.
Someone, however, must be paying for Lucia’s legal team at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, one of the country’s top law firms. Is that you Mark?