Mutual fund management at center of Tillery class action

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 17, 2005, 11:18am

Stephen Tillery

Francis J. Balint of the Phoenix Firm of Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint

Andrew Friedman of the Phoenix Firm of Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint

Paula Beals of Edwardsville filed a class action complaint Feb. 16 in Madison County Circuit Court against The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC) of Houston, Texas, accusing it of failing to properly manage her mutual fund account. She also claims the company favored certain investors with "market-timing" trading at the expense of others.

Stephen Tillery of Swansea, George Zelcs of Chicago and Andrew Friedman and Francis Balint Jr. of Phoenix are plaintiffs' attorneys.

Beals had owned a tax sheltered annuity, in which she agreed to make at least one minimum purchase payment to VALIC in return for a series of payments at a later date.

According to the complaint, some of the mutual funds' options include securities which are traded in markets outside of the United States. The home markets for such foreign securities include London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo and Sydney.

The VALIC variable annuities, which are the subject of this complaint, are those which consist of a “separate account” which keeps investors’ assets separate from VALIC’s assets, and each annuity’s separate account is further divided into multiple variable investment options.

Beals alleges VALIC also was negligent for failing to:

  • Evaluate on a daily basis price relevant information available to VALIC after the close of foreign markets in which underlying mutual funds portfolios of securities traded;

  • Adjust calculation of the daily AUV to take into account any changes in value of the foreign securities held in the underlying mutual funds;

  • Implement VALIC's valuation and accumulation unit pricing policies and procedures;

  • Use policies and procedures which benefited market timing traders of VALIC's variable investment options at the expense of long-term holders.

    Beals claims she and the class have suffered damages in the amount to be proven at trial, but less than $75,000 per member including compensatory damages and costs.

    "Beals and the class pray that the court enter judgment in their favor and against VALIC; ordering that this action be maintained as a class action pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-801 and certifying an appropriate class; and award plaintiff and the class compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees, prejudgment interest, and costs of the suit in an amount not exceed $75,000 per class member," the complaint states.

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