Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Backstreet’s Back (In Court) - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ

The Backstreet Boys launched my favorite, and yours, music revolution in the late 90's, the "boy band."  Now, the Backstreet Boys are trailblazing again, this time with regard to preference actions in Ponzi schemes. By way of background, Lou Pearlman, the manager of, among other groups as the BSB and N'Sync, was charged and convicted of criminal fraud in the form of a Ponzi scheme, and was sentenced to 25 years in jail.  An involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy ensued.

Now, the trustee in the bankruptcy case is pursuing fraudulent conveyance actions for all payments that were made to investors in Pearlman's ventures.  This is more than a novelty, as it could signal how other Ponzi schemes, such as Maddof and Petters, will be treated. It has been argued that as a Ponzi venture is by nature illegitimate, all payments to investors in those schemes are deemed in furtherance of the fraud.  This allows a trustee to pursue those payments as fraudulent conveyance, either under Bankruptcy Code Section 548 (with a two year look back), or under state court fraudulent conveyance statutes (most likely the adoption of the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act), which can have a much longer look back (as much as 8 years). 

To make matters worse for the investors, these statutes do not necessarily require the showing of an action intent to defraud.  Instead, what is generally required is proof that the transfer was made without adequate consideration while the debtor was insolvent.  As the payments were not paid pursuant to a valid investment, it can be argued that no consideration was paid for the transfer--insolvency is easy.

If the Trustee is successfully in this case, expect this to embolden other trustee's across the country in similar schemes.  So it is possible that the BSB will be breaking hearts in both decades.

Backstreet’s Back (In Court) - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ

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