Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Royal Gazette article: Lines brothers win appeal against British Columbia cease trading order

LOM founders Scott and Brian Lines have won an appeal against a Canadian regulator’s cease trading order against them personally. The order had arisen from a 2010 US judgment the brothers consented to following their agreement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to be subject to sanctions.


Read the full article here:
http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20120724/BUSINESS/707249981

Monday, July 23, 2012

Scott Lines wins appeal: B.C. Court Overturns Regulators Cease Trading Order

In April 2012, the British Columbia Securities Commission (“BCSC”) improperly issued a reciprocal order against me (set to expire after 6 months), in reference to an undertaking I agreed to as part of an SEC settlement in 2010.  I appealed the order in the Court of Appeal for British  Columbia.  The B.C. Court overturned the order on July 20th.   (See “Lines appeals Canadian regulator’s ‘cease trading’ order”, The Royal Gazette, June 5th, 2012.)

As detailed in an article published in The Royal Gazette on June 5th   (“Lines appeals Canadian regulator’s ‘cease trading’ order”), my appeal to the Court of Appeal of British Columbia  over a reciprocal order issued by the British Columbia Securities Commission (“BCSC”) was successful, with a decision in my favor issued on Friday, overturning the order.

In its decision, the Court agreed with my assessment that the BCSC failed to understand the meaning and context of the settlement that I and certain LOM entities entered into in October 2010, when we settled a civil suit with the SEC, stemming from transactions occurring 10 years ago.   LOM and I settled only in regard to charges of alleged negligence (and not intentional or reckless conduct).   There was no trial, no admission or finding of wrongdoing or liability, and no adjudication or finding of fact by any court.   And although the final “neither admit nor deny” settlement is in the form of a judgment, this was by way of our consent and simply means the judge approved the settlement that was mutually agreed between the parties.  The matter was fully resolved as a result.

The B.C. Court summarized its decision as follows:   “But the Director’s argument ignores the fact that in this case, there was no determination by any court or regulatory authority that the Lines had in fact broken any such laws  (emphasis added). Nor did the Lines admit to doing so. Essentially, then, the Commission made the leap in logic from the fact that the Lines had consented to certain sanctions without admitting wrongdoing, to the conclusion that the public interest required that they be prohibited from trading in all securities in British Columbia. Bearing in mind that the standard of reasonableness is concerned with “the existence of justification, transparency and intelligibility within the decision making process (Dunsmuir, para. 47), I am constrained to the conclusion that the Commission’s order was unreasonable. Essentially, it imposes a severe sanction on each of the Lines for entering into a settlement agreement in which no wrongdoing was admitted. The evidence relied on did not, and could not, justify the more onerous order.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

LOM Announces Court Approval Of Settlement With SEC

Hamilton, Bermuda – 15 October, 2010 - LOM (Holdings) Limited (“LOM”; Ticker: LOM.BH) announced that the U.S. District Court in New York has approved a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) resolving allegations that involved trading of Sedona Software Solutions Inc. and SHEP Technologies Inc. in 2002 and 2003.

As part of the resolution, LOM (Holdings) Limited, the public parent company, was dismissed entirely from the proceedings. Without admitting or denying any allegations in the SEC complaint, and without any adjudication of fact or law, five LOM subsidiaries and Scott Lines, LOM’s CEO, entered into settlements and agreed to be enjoined from future violations of certain federal securities laws and SEC rules.

“We are pleased to conclude this matter with the SEC,” said LOM board member Quinton Edness. “This settlement is in the best interests of LOM, its customers and shareholders. LOM’s Board looks forward to the continued leadership of Scott Lines and the management team.”

Scott Lines said: “Today’s court approval brings to a close a 7½-year SEC investigation and civil litigation. We are committed to delivering high quality financial services that comply with the highest legal standards to serve our individual and institutional customers in more than 75 countries.”

Under the settlement, the LOM subsidiaries will pay a civil monetary penalty of $450,000 and Mr. Lines will pay a civil monetary penalty of $50,000. The subsidiaries, Scott Lines and Brian Lines, a former LOM executive, agreed to disgorge profits of $1,277,403 plus accrued interest of $654,918. The penalty will not have a material effect on the financial statements of LOM; the majority is covered by a provision already made by LOM for litigation-related costs in 2007. All the disgorgement funds have been paid into escrow; LOM will not pay any portion of the disgorgement.

As part of the settlements, the LOM subsidiaries agreed to:

  • Not maintain accounts for U.S. customers for two years. LOM ceased accepting new accounts for U.S. residents in 2001.
  • Not trade in securities on the U.S. OTC-Bulletin Board or Pink Sheet markets for two years. LOM’s dealing in the two U.S. markets was substantially curtailed to a negligible amount in 2005, following an internal policy change.
  • Engage an independent consultant who will monitor compliance with the settlements

LOM Group subsidiaries included in the settlement are Lines Overseas Management Limited, LOM Capital Limited, LOM Securities (Bermuda) Limited, LOM Securities (Bahamas) Limited, and LOM Securities (Cayman) Limited.

Brian Lines, formerly LOM’s president, reached a settlement with the SEC that was likewise finalized today. Brian Lines resigned his position with LOM and left the company in 2005.

About LOM

The LOM Group is a self-clearing investment management firm providing a full range of investment services and products through its regulated subsidiaries in Bermuda and Bahamas. LOM today has nearly $1 billion in client assets under administration and provides brokerage, asset management, and corporate finance services to its primarily high net-worth individual and institutional customers in more than 75 countries around the world. The parent company, LOM (Holdings) Limited, is publicly listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (symbol LOM BH). The consolidated group is debt-free and has shareholder's equity of over $18 million.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. - NYTimes.com

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. - NYTimes.com



SAN FRANCISCO — The era of the American Internet is ending.
Invented by American computer scientists during the 1970s, the Internet has been embraced around the globe. During the network’s first three decades, most Internet traffic flowed through the United States. In many cases, data sent between two locations within a given country also passed through the United States.
Engineers who help run the Internet said that it would have been impossible for the United States to maintain its hegemony over the long run because of the very nature of the Internet; it has no central point of control.
And now, the balance of power is shifting. Data is increasingly flowing around the United States, which may have intelligence — and conceivably military — consequences.
American intelligence officials have warned about this shift. “Because of the nature of global telecommunications, we are playing with a tremendous home-field advantage, and we need to exploit that edge,” Michael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006. “We also need to protect that edge, and we need to protect those who provide it to us.”
Indeed, Internet industry executives and government officials have acknowledged that Internet traffic passing through the switching equipment of companies based in the United States has proved a distinct advantage for American intelligence agencies. In December 2005, The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency had established a program with the cooperation of American telecommunications firms that included the interception of foreign Internet communications.
Some Internet technologists and privacy advocates say those actions and other government policies may be hastening the shift in Canadian and European traffic away from the United States.
“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”
But economics also plays a role. Almost all nations see data networks as essential to economic development. “It’s no different than any other infrastructure that a country needs,” said K C Claffy, a research scientist at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis in San Diego. “You wouldn’t want someone owning your roads either.”
Indeed, more countries are becoming aware of how their dependence on other countries for their Internet traffic makes them vulnerable. Because of tariffs, pricing anomalies and even corporate cultures, Internet providers will often not exchange data with their local competitors. They prefer instead to send and receive traffic with larger international Internet service providers.
This leads to odd routing arrangements, referred to as tromboning, in which traffic between two cites in one country will flow through other nations. In January, when a cable was cut in the Mediterranean, Egyptian Internet traffic was nearly paralyzed because it was not being shared by local I.S.P.’s but instead was routed through European operators.
The issue was driven home this month when hackers attacked and immobilized several Georgian government Web sites during the country’s fighting with Russia. Most of Georgia’s access to the global network flowed through Russia and Turkey. A third route through an undersea cable linking Georgia to Bulgaria is scheduled for completion in September.
Ms. Claffy said that the shift away from the United States was not limited to developing countries. The Japanese “are on a rampage to build out across India and China so they have alternative routes and so they don’t have to route through the U.S.”
Andrew M. Odlyzko, a professor at the University of Minnesota who tracks the growth of the global Internet, added, “We discovered the Internet, but we couldn’t keep it a secret.” While the United States carried 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic a decade ago, he estimates that portion has fallen to about 25 percent.
Internet technologists say that the global data network that was once a competitive advantage for the United States is now increasingly outside the control of American companies. They decided not to invest in lower-cost optical fiber lines, which have rapidly become a commodity business.
That lack of investment mirrors a pattern that has taken place elsewhere in the high-technology industry, from semiconductors to personal computers.
The risk, Internet technologists say, is that upstarts like China and India are making larger investments in next-generation Internet technology that is likely to be crucial in determining the future of the network, with investment, innovation and profits going first to overseas companies.
“Whether it’s a good or a bad thing depends on where you stand,” said Vint Cerf, a computer scientist who is Google’s Internet evangelist and who, with Robert Kahn, devised the original Internet routing protocols in the early 1970s. “Suppose the Internet was entirely confined to the U.S., which it once was? That wasn’t helpful.”
International networks that carry data into and out of the United States are still being expanded at a sharp rate, but the Internet infrastructure in many other regions of the world is growing even more quickly. You could use a businesscashadvance.ca to accomplish the same.
While there has been some concern over a looming Internet traffic jam because of the rise in Internet use worldwide, the congestion is generally not on the Internet’s main trunk lines, but on neighborhood switches, routers and the wires into a house.
As Internet traffic moves offshore, it may complicate the task of American intelligence gathering agencies, but would not make Internet surveillance impossible.
“We’re probably in one of those situations where things get a little bit harder,” said John Arquilla, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., who said the United States had invested far too little in collecting intelligence via the Internet. “We’ve given terrorists a free ride in cyberspace,” he said.
Others say the eclipse of the United States as the central point in cyberspace is one of many indicators that the world is becoming a more level playing field both economically and politically.
“This is one of many dimensions on which we’ll have to adjust to a reduction in American ability to dictate terms of core interests of ours,” said Yochai Benkler, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. “We are, by comparison, militarily weaker, economically poorer and technologically less unique than we were then. We are still a very big player, but not in control.”
China, for instance, surpassed the United States in the number of Internet users in June. Over all, Asia now has 578.5 million, or 39.5 percent, of the world’s Internet users, although only 15.3 percent of the Asian population is connected to the Internet, according to Internet World Stats, a market research organization.
By contrast, there were about 237 million Internet users in North America and the growth has nearly peaked; penetration of the Internet in the region has reached about 71 percent.
The increasing role of new competitors has shown up in data collected annually by Renesys, a firm in Manchester, N.H., that monitors the connections between Internet providers. The Renesys rankings of Internet connections, an indirect measure of growth, show that the big winners in the last three years have been the Italian Internet provider Tiscali, China Telecom and the Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI.
Firms that have slipped in the rankings have all been American: Verizon, Savvis, AT&T, Qwest, Cogent and AboveNet.
“The U.S. telecommunications firms haven’t invested,” said Earl Zmijewski, vice president and general manager for Internet data services at Renesys. “The rest of the world has caught up. I don’t see the AT&T’s and Sprints making the investments because they see Internet service as a commodity.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Donald Lines Awarded US$3.3 Million; Court Finds SEC Process Server Committed Fraud

Hamilton, Bermuda – June 11th, 2008 - LOM (Holdings) Limited (“ LOM”) announced that the Superior Court of Massachusetts has ruled in favor of LOM’s chairman, Donald P. Lines, in his suit against Stokes & Levin, Inc. (“Stokes”), a Massachusetts process serving company, awarding Mr. Lines damages in excess of US$3 million. The Court found that Mr. Lines was never served administrative subpoenas issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in November 2005, contrary to repeated claims by Stokes and the SEC in court documents and in the media.

Judge Robert Cosgrove referred to the “shadow this incident has unfairly cast over his [Mr. Lines] good name,” and added, “To the extent that I can give him that back on behalf of this court, I’m happy to do so.”

In its June 6, 2008 ruling, the court found that “Stokes & Levin did not serve the SEC subpoenas on Mr. Lines in November 2005, that Stokes & Levin willfully, deceptively and unfairly generated a false Return of Service…”. Among other things, the Court found that Stokes & Levin committed fraud and unfair and deceptive acts and practices by falsely certifying that it served Mr. Lines.

The lawsuit arose out of a representation made by the SEC to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in December 2005, claiming that the “SEC staff personally served Donald Lines” with administrative third party witness subpoenas. The SEC further represented that Mr. Lines and LOM were “flouting” those subpoenas. The SEC made similar representations to the press. The SEC has, to date, failed to correct these false statements.

“An egregious wrong was committed against Mr. Lines. Contrary to the strident public statements made by the SEC suggesting Mr. Lines had been served with SEC formal process, the Court has made an express finding that he was not,” said Henry Sullivan, Mr. Lines’ attorney. “The award to Mr. Lines is exceptional and reflects the seriousness of the injustice done to him. We believe this ruling will restore Mr. Lines' reputation in the business community.”

About LOM

LOM is a publicly-held, international financial services company, providing a complete range of investment services and products through its regulated subsidiaries in Bermuda, Bahamas and Grand Cayman. In business for 15 years, LOM today has over $1 billion in client assets under administration and provides brokerage, asset management, and corporate finance services to its high net-worth individual and institutional customers in over 75 countries around the world. The parent company, LOM (Holdings) Limited, is publicly listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (symbol LOM BH). The consolidated group is debt-free and has shareholder's equity of over $21 million.

Contact: media@lom.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The LOM Group of Companies is pleased to announce additional new talent joining the team in recent months

The LOM Group of Companies is pleased to announce additional new talent joining the team in recent months.

David Barker has taken on the lead role with our trade desk commencing in February. David comes to us with 20 years of trading experience with the Bank of Bermuda, RNB of New York, T.W. Securities and other firms conveying a wealth of additional experience and organization to LOM's securities desk.

Kenny Foggo recently joined the operations department and is training under the guidance of senior manager Howard Daniels in a settlements administration role. Kenny brings a history of teaching to his new position and we are pleased to see him embracing the learning experience with LOM.

Arantxa Mayers has completed her college education and is taking up an initial challenge with the Group as a Client Relationship Management administrator . She will be supporting Investment Advisors in the firm, with a special focus on LOM's Savings Plan and Retirement Savings Plans for local and expatriate clientele.

Malik Showers has recently returned to our IT department in a Network Administrator role. We welcome his excellent staff support while our technical systems evolve to maintain LOM's high standard of customer support.

In addition to the local Bermudians noted above Tanya Kramarska is utilizing her expertise in the securities industry to assist the LOM sales force. Previously Tanya worked with Assante Capital and Scotia McLeod and will be supporting our senior investment advisors here in Bermuda.

Rounding out the exciting new changes we now have Matt Earle on board as an Internet Marketing Specialist. Matt's contributions can be seen on LOM's new website and includes new innovations to provide constant updates on LOM's Blue Book tracking local companies, online mutual fund fact sheets and a video introduction on LOM's employment pages.

Friday, May 2, 2008

LOM Reports 46% Increased Profits for 2007

Hamilton, Bermuda - April 17, 2008 -- LOM (Holdings) Limited (BSX: LOM) today reported that net earnings for the year ended December 31, 2007 rose nearly 50% as compared to year end 2006, to $2.5 million or $0.38 per diluted share. Diluted earnings per share were $0.38 and $0.26 for the year 2007 and 2006, respectively. Total revenue was up 29% to $16.5 million while expansion caused operating costs to rise by 26%, to $14 million.

"LOM had a very good year and these results reinforce our confidence in LOM’s ability to perform well in a dynamic global economy. Our performance is a tribute to the way we have repositioned our company over the past several years, as well as the hard work of our employees," said Scott Lines, LOM president and chief executive officer.

The group’s overall balance sheet remains extremely strong with cash levels at $8.5 million or 33% of total assets. In addition, the balance sheet remains debt free.

The firm also confirmed its semiannual $0.07 dividend which represents a 40% increase from the same period in 2007.

More information can be found in the shareholders letter, appended below, and the unaudited financial results available on the web at www.lom.com/financial-statements.

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2007 Letter to Shareholders
April 16, 2008
Dear shareholder:
2007 proved a very difficult environment for global equity markets. The year witnessed rising inflation, strong commodity prices, the implosion of the US housing market and the knock on effects to debt instruments associated with that sector. Returns were modest in nominal terms and flat or negative in inflation adjusted terms. The US market rose 3.6%, UK 3.8%, Germany 3.5%, France 1.6% and Japan fell 10.5%. The strongest performing major market was Canada which rose 7.3% on the back of strong oil and commodity prices. Since the end of 2007 most global equity markets have suffered double digit percentage declines.In last year’s shareholder letter we outlined our view that the potential for the unwinding of the Yen carry trade would become a significant factor in the performance of global markets in late 2007 and through 2008. Indeed, such is happening, and as a result asset valuations across the economy and around the world are under review. A year ago we feared that the unusually low real borrowing costs had allowed a massive increase in asset prices. Asset prices were afloat on an ocean of cheap credit and that tide has turned. Despite swinging cuts to short term interest rates by the US Federal Reserve aimed at avoiding a collapse in the US housing market and financial system, the price of “risk” continues to rise.The US$ has depreciated substantially over the year. During the first quarter of this year that decline has accelerated to an extent that threatens the global finance system. Despite the Dollar’s waning influence, over 80% of all global financial transactions are priced in US$. Any further acceleration in the Dollar’s decline would threaten to undermine global trade. Additionally, the weakness of the Dollar has caused funds to flow into hard and soft commodities resulting in dramatic increases in basis foodstuff prices. This, in turn, is pushing headline inflation numbers up around the globe and impeding the central bank’s ability to reduce interest rates to ward off economic weakness.Thus, we have reached a point where it has become in every major country’s interest to stabilize the US$. We believe that the rest of this year will see increasing co-ordinated government and central bank currency intervention aimed at a US$ rally.Furthermore, the toxic mortgage and asset-backed paper that is causing such problems in the US banking and broking sectors is a global virus infecting all major financial institutions. Global credit contraction will impact growth in all major economies and we expect to witness interest rate cuts in the UK and Europe as a result.The massive central bank injection of liquidity into the world’s global financial system will prove positive for equities for the balance of the year. However, over the longer term this liquidity boost will cause the emergence of significant inflationary issues that will need to be addressed in 2009 and beyond.

LOM’s profits in 2007 showed substantial increase over 2006.
2007 full year profits for LOM Holdings were US$2.48 million or 38 cents per share
Assets under administration grew 15% to $1.134 billion
Return on equity was 11.3%
Revenues were up 29% to US$16.5 million
Operating costs rose 26% to US$14 million

The group’s balance sheet remains extremely strong with our cash levels at $8.5 million or 33% of total assets.During the course of 2008 LOM will be implementing a new back office and client accounting system that will enable us to bring additional services to our customers. Thus, for the balance of 2008 we will find it very difficult to reduce costs to any meaningful extent. Additionally, the group will continue to face high professional fees due to legal costs related to our single ongoing litigation matter.

LOM’s focus will continue to be to win new customers and assets and keep our performance standards at “best in market” levels.

At the end of 2007 LOM’s book value per share on a fully diluted basis was US$3.41. During the year our share price on the Bermuda Stock Exchange traded between a low of $3.25 and a high of $4.00.Our regular half yearly dividend of 7 cents per share will be paid on June 1st to shareholders of record on May 16th. Our annualized payout this year is 14 cents, a 16% increase on our previous annual dividend of 12 cents per share.On behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to extend our thanks to our customers, employees and shareholders for their support and loyalty over the past year.

Scott Lines
CEO
LOM (Holdings) Limited
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About LOM: The LOM Group is an offshore international financial services company, providing a complete range of investment services and products through its regulated subsidiaries in Bermuda, Bahamas and Grand Cayman and a marketing office in London, England. In business for over 15 years, LOM today has over $1 billion in client assets under administration and provides brokerage, asset management, and corporate finance services to its primarily high net-worth individual and institutional customers in over 75 countries around the world. The parent company, LOM (Holdings) Limited, is publicly listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (symbol LOM BH). The consolidated group is debt-free and has shareholder's equity of over $25 million.