Investment guru Jim Rogers's management company told investors that Refco's ( RFX) bankruptcy filing means they probably won't be able to get their money out anytime soon. In a letter to investors, an executive with Beeland Management Co. says 63% of the assets in the Rogers International Raw Materials Fund are tied up in the Refco bankruptcy and can't be withdrawn from the scandal-tarred brokerage. "The fund is currently unable to provide an accurate value for its units for reporting purposes," the letter said. "Therefore the fund anticipates that no redemptions will be able to be processed for Oct. 31, 2005." When Refco filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, it listed the Rogers-managed fund as one of its largest unsecured creditors, with $75 million in assets. The Rogers fund is one of hundreds of customers whose accounts essentially have been frozen in the bankruptcy proceeding. Refco filed for bankruptcy last week. The move came as customers began pulling money out after the arrest of former CEO Phillip Bennett on a securities fraud charge. Meanwhile, another Rogers fund has even more money locked up at Refco. The Rogers Raw Materials Fund is Refco's fourth-largest unsecured creditor, with $287 million in assets. It's not known what Beeland is telling investors in that fund. But Beeland says the assets in the international fund are tied up because of big goof by Refco. The management company contends Refco improperly placed its assets in an account with Refco Capital Markets, the brokerage's unregulated offshore prime brokerage subsidiary. Beeland says the assets, mostly U.S. government bonds, should have been housed in an account with the firm's futures operation. "Please be aware, however, that we may not succeed in persuading the bankruptcy court to release Fund assets and that the Fund may be involved in Refco's bankruptcy proceeding for quite some time," Beeland noted.
Refco's futures business is up for sale and is not included in the bankruptcy filing. Refco Capital Markets, which Refco is shutting down, is part of the bankruptcy proceeding. It's not clear how many other customers have been a victim of the same kind of mistake at Refco, or whether the incident involving the Rogers fund is an isolated event. Beeland has hired lawyers to argue to the bankruptcy court that assets should be released as soon as possible. But the management company says there's no guarantee such an appeal will succeed. "We very much regret this turn of events,'' Beeland's manager, Walter Price, says in the letter. "We did diligence on Refco LLC and Refco Capital Markets before engaging them. We are as shocked as we're sure you are by the disclosures of misconduct, the incredibly rapid deterioration and subsequent bankruptcy of Refco."