J.G. Wentworth accused of financial foul play in WestStar Mortgage acquisition

WestStar's former owner claims J.G. Wentworth misrepresented financials

Back in 2015, The J.G. Wentworth Company, the purchaser of structured settlement payments, annuity payments, lottery payments and other receivables that rose to fame with the “It’s my money and I want it now” advertising campaign, surprised many in the mortgage business by becoming a mortgage company itself.

J.G. Wentworth accomplished this transition by acquiring WestStar Mortgage, a privately held residential mortgage company specializing in conforming mortgage lending.

The acquisition, finalized in August 2015, cost J.G. Wentworth a total of $66.7 million, which it paid out with $53.2 million in cash and $13.5 million in J.G. Wentworth shares.

But now, the former owner of WestStar Mortgage is claiming that J.G. Wentworth misrepresented the state of the company’s financials and pushed for an accelerated closing, which was finalized just before J.G. Wentworth’s stock crashed.

According to Legal NewsLine, Walter Jones, the former chairman and chief executive officer of WestStar Mortgage, is suing J.G. Wentworth for “fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing” related to the acquisition of WestStar.

Here’s Legal NewsLine with the details:

“Defendants possessed material non-public information regarding JGW’s business, unknown to Jones, when they sold JGW stock to Jones, and misrepresented, concealed and omitted material facts regarding JGW’s business in order to induce Jones to agree to close the Transaction five days before JGW’s quarterly earnings announcement on August 5, 2015,” Jones wrote in his complaint.

According to Jones’ lawsuit, J.G. Wentworth made “no effort” to expeditiously close the sale agreement after it was originally agreed to and announced in March 2015.

Here’s Legal NewsLine again:

“Then, in late-July, JGW became adamant that the Parties target a Closing Date of Friday, July 31, 2015,” he wrote. “JGW provided no reason for its abrupt posture that this specific date be targeted, just before its second quarter earnings announcement.

“From that point until the Closing Date, JGW applied tremendous pressure to close the deal as quickly as possible, prior to its second quarter earnings announcement.”

After the announcement of its second quarter earnings, J.G. Wentworth’s stock tanked, falling 24% in the week after the deal closed.

Then things got worse.

From Legal NewsLine again:

“JGW’s stock failed to close above $6.20 per share from that point forward, and ultimately fell to $0.45 per share on June 17, 2016 — a 94 percent drop from the date of the closing of the Transaction — after which the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading in the stock due to JGW’s failure to maintain an average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30-day trading period of at least $15 million,” he wrote in his complaint.

Eventually, J.G. Wentworth’s stock began trading on the OTCQX Market, an over-the-counter market, and fell even more, closing Thursday’s trading at $0.40 per share.

Jones claims that J.G. Wentworth knew it was in trouble, and accused the company’s executives of lying to him.

According to the Legal NewsLine report, Jones is seeking at least $7 million in damages.

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