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Michael Hiltzik: The Monex files

November 20, 2010 | 10:43 am

Louis E. Carabini is the founder of the big Newport Beach precious metals investment firm Monex, which trails government regulatory actions and customer lawsuits behind it like a miasma.

He also fashions himself something of a libertarian philosopher, as is evidenced by his 2008 book, "Inclined to Liberty." In the book, Carabini, whose firm is being sued by the IRS for more than $378 million in back taxes and penalties, comes out against government regulation and taxation. (Big surprise.) He doesn't have much nice to say about journalists, either.

My Sunday column reports on several aspects of Monex's courtroom and regulatory history. Here are links to some of the court filings mentioned.

The lawsuit by Patricia Mike and her daughters is here. Rudolph Shaffter's lawsuit is here. Kevin Walker's original complaint is here. The IRS lawsuit for back taxes, detailing what the government says is Monex's effort to skip out on the bill, is here.

My original article about Monex, dated Sept. 5, 1982 (!) is here. A follow-up piece in April 1983, which you can read here, explained why regulators were having so much trouble imposing rules on the type of business Monex engaged in. Has anything changed in 27 years? You tell me.

The Sunday column begins below.

In these troubled economic times, it’s not hard to understand why people might want to protect their life savings by purchasing a hard asset like gold or silver.

At least, that’s the pitch of Monex, the big Newport Beach investment firm, which bills itself as “America’s trusted name in precious metals investments” and assures clients that it’s "committed to customer service."

So let’s take a look at the experiences of some customers who say their trust in Monex was misplaced.

Read the whole column: A cautionary tale for gold and silver buyers

-- Michael Hiltzik