Taking Stock at the Brewery: J Mark Brewer’s Complaints against the Securities and Exchange Commission

Phil Groom writes:

Full text of J Mark Brewer’s complaint against the Securities and Exchange Commission below, courtesy of Scribd. Unlike the former SPCK/SSG employees’ pension contributions, wages and Mr Brewer’s other outstanding debts, it’s unlikely to go missing, but just in case I’ve saved it as a pdf here. Let’s take a closer look at some of his concerns:

4. As of the filing of this complaint, the financial system in the United States of America is in worse condition than at any time since the Great Depression, a twelve-year “event” that is considered by some to have ended only by the onset of the second World War. Given this level of economic turmoil, an inability to access money or basic information about money, an interruption by the government itself of access to information about bank and securities accounts generates investor fear – not confidence. This is an inconsolable fear to even the most sanguine investor. The defendants did just that: acting under color of law, defendants seized plaintiff’s accounts, surrounded the premises of the financial institution through which those accounts were purchased and did so without any notice to plaintiff, opportunity for a hearing or other due process of law.

Amen to all that, Mark: “an inability to access money or basic information about money… generates investor fear – not confidence. This is an inconsolable fear…” So what effect do you imagine the inability to access information about their pension funds — information that you, Mr J Mark Brewer, are intentionally withholding — is having upon your former employees? And what of their wages — wages that you, Mr J Mark Brewer, are intentionally withholding? 

And what of your brother Philip’s advice to staff at Durham Cathedral Bookshop on how to deal with  unpaid suppliers pursuing payments due? “When and if asked about billing, tell them they should process that at vendor-accounts, as you are not aware of how they are paying old invoices, etc. they will need to chase Saint Stephen the Great Trust as they have been doing.”  Ah yes, the gift of clear information, generously bestowed to instil confidence…

Can’t help thinking it’s a shame the SEC weren’t on duty in Exeter to surround the former bookshop when you sold it without any notice to SPCK, with no opportunity for a hearing and in flagrant disregard for the Covenant you signed, let alone any due process of law. Incidentally, I’m fascinated by that little word ‘Trust’ that you and Phil are so fond of tacking onto the end of ‘St Stephen the Great’ — I know American English and British English aren’t the same language; I guess I hadn’t realised quite how far apart they’d drifted… but of course, you Brewers are a law unto yourselves, aren’t you? One rule for you, another for everyone else. Not sure what “color of law” you work under, Mark, but it sure looks shady to me. 

6. The ex parte Presidents’ Day Orders are a violation of the fundamental rights of due process of the plaintiff and are an illegal seizure of his accounts. The defendants procured and then executed the Presidents’ Day Orders at issue from a court without jurisdiction to do so and without possessing a properly authorized or statutory basis. In this respect and as alleged herein, the defendants acted under color of law in violation of the rights of the plaintiff:

A. The Presidents’ Day Orders which were used to seize assets of plaintiff and were signed on a federal holiday known as “Presidents’ Day.” The orders were signed by a U. S. District Judge in which neither this plaintiff nor the defendants in the SEC case reside, do business or are subject to proper venue. The orders were signed without notice to anyone and without an opportunity to be heard by anyone.

Now that, Mark, coming from the man who attempted to take a UK company through the USA bankruptcy courts, really takes the biscuit; and since your grasp of the English language seems, shall we say, a tad limited at times, here, especially for you, is an explanation of the phrase ‘takes the biscuit’, courtesy of the BBC. Enjoy; and next time you take a biscuit, try not to let it break off in your tea: makes a terrible mess in the cup — oops, too late:

21. The Presidents’ Day Orders scarcely mention the investors whose money has been taken from them – other than to say that the seizure is “to prevent waste and dissipation of the assets of Defendants to the detriment of the investors.” Nothing requires Mr. Janvey to provide the aggrieved investors with information or account statements – much less customer service. The investors are simply left wondering when or if they will ever be able to recover anything they once had.

And since when, Mark, have you taken care to mention your aggrieved former employees and suppliers whose money and stock has been taken from them? Is this why you’ve been shuffling the stock around the shops, “to prevent waste and dissipation of the assets” of your suppliers? Since when have you supplied your former employees or suppliers with information? Account statements? Customer service? All of them “are simply left wondering when or if they will ever be able to recover anything they once had.”

28. Conclusion. The defendants, both the institutions and the individuals, may well be every bit as “bad” the SEC claims. Quite likely, the defendants’ allegations will never see the light of day in any courtroom as the only parties which could have defended themselves have been stripped of the ability to hire or pay for legal counsel. Even if it turns out otherwise, this is a clear case of the cure being far worse than the supposed illness. Moreover, these allegations can hardly justify the seizure of plaintiff’s accounts which are held at Pershing LLC. In its stated motivation to save the investors and protect their investments, the SEC’s heavy-handed approach already has killed the goose that laid the eggs: Stanford is finished forever and Pershing LLC is purportedly prohibited by law from allowing plaintiff to access his accounts or even get information concerning them. Far from preventing the “dissipation” of the plaintiff’s assets, the SEC has seized them, doing exactly what it accuses Stanford of doing.

Let’s rephrase that a touch:

Perhaps some aspects of the SPCK bookshop business were every bit as “bad” as you’ve claimed at various points in your attempts to excuse your abominable management practices. But be that as it may, if it were left to you, quite likely, your former employees’ grievances would never see the light of day in any courtroom because you’d have stripped them of the ability to hire or pay for legal counsel; and again, if it were left to you, any evidence the courts might need would be unavailable because you’d have restricted it with bogus ‘Cease and Desist’ threats. Even if it turns out otherwise, this is a clear case of the cure being far worse than the supposed illness. Moreover, whatever allegations you might make can hardly justify your outrageous treatment of your staff or your underhanded sale of the Exeter shop; in your stated motivation “to salvage what remains of the business of the bookshops” your heavy handed approach already has killed the goose that laid the eggs: the SPCK bookshops look to be finished forever and you appear unwilling to allow former employees or suppliers to access their money or stock or even get information concerning them. Far from preventing the “dissipation” of the bookshops’ assets, you have seized them, doing exactly what you accuse the SEC of doing.

I hope you’re getting the message, Mark. How does it feel to be at the mercy of those so much more powerful than yourself — those who have the ability to slam doors in your face and leave you standing out in the cold, knowing that assets that rightly belong to you are just the other side of those doors? 

I guess it’s not as bad for you: you have your own pet law firm and a team of tame attorneys to do your bidding; you have a brother with a B&B in Bountiful who can put you up if push comes to shove. But the people whose livelihoods you’ve ruined in much the same way as you make out the SEC is ruining yours — for many of them, it was everything they had.

Lent is upon us, Mark; it’s time to repent: to turn around, to do the right thing, to stop fighting for your own rights and to respond to the needs of those you’ve short-changed.

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3 responses to “Taking Stock at the Brewery: J Mark Brewer’s Complaints against the Securities and Exchange Commission

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "outrageous"

  2. Valiant for Truth

    Quite right! The arrogance of an instant legal plea while thousands of small investors face losing their cash. Probably, as with Northern Rock in Newcastle having many northern investors, ordinary people in Houston supported what they saw as a local bank. On 1st March, St David’s Day, I like the final lines of a medieval piece about St David – “Holy David, be our pleader, as thy namesake be our leader, our Goliath overcome!” Come on with the pebbles SPCK, USDAW, ACAS et al.!

  3. Great post Phil, many thanks!

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