ENGLEWOOD, COLO. -- A financial adviser afraid to face his clients has admitted in a videotape message that he lost about $100 million of investors' money by making risky trades in stock options.
More than 1,000 investors may be affected, according to lawyers. Included are several large retirement funds.
"Words aren't adequate to express my regret and sorrow," said Jim Donahue, head of Hedged Securities Associates L.P., based in the Denver suburb of Englewood. "I feel terrible remorse for the things I've done to you."
H. Alan Dill, attorney for the partnership, said the organization has about $5.25 million in assets remaining and will seek bankruptcy protection to sort out claims.
He said the biggest loser was the retirement fund of Weyerhaeuser Co. of Tacoma, Wash., which lost about $30 million.
Donahue sent a videotape to an investor meeting Thursday instead of appearing personally because he feared for his safety, according to aides. While the 18-minute message was played to an overflow crowd, security guards walked through the audience.
Donahue, 62, has been known as an aggressive trader in stock options: contracts to buy or sell a stock for a specified price in the future. During the past 11 years, heclaimed annual returns of 20 percent or better by hedging his bets in the options market.
Donahue ran into trouble when he bet on an upturn in the shares of UAL Corp., the parent company of United Airlines. The stock turned down after an employee group failed to line up financing to buy the company, and on Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
"The loss is extensive, and involves most of the total assets of the fund," he said. "My words cannot possibly alleviate the emotional or financial impact on each person involved."