Articles Posted in Securities and Exchange Commission

 

 

The SEC’s complaint contends that Beaufort and Kyriacou became involved in a pump-and-dump scam with a man that they didn’t know was working for the FBI. With him, they purportedly spoke about using promotions to raise stock prices, engaging in matched trades to affect the stock price, and selling the shares to make a profit.

The SEC filed another complaint contending that in recorded phone calls, HD View CEO Dennis Mancino and CEO of WT Consulting Group LLC William T. Hirschy consented to manipulate the company’s stock by utilizing the undercover agent’s broker network to create a “fraudulent” demand. The two of them were supposed to “manipulate HD View stock” so that its price would go up prior to having the brokers in the agent’s network liquidate their positions. In return, there would be a kickback paid from the money made from trading. The regulator has also filed civil charges against Mancino, Hirschy, and the entities TJM Investments Inc., WT Consulting Group, and DJK Investments 10 Inc.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against “repeat securities law violator” Steven J. Muehler, who it has barred from associating with any broker-dealer since 2016. Once again, the regulator is accusing him of defrauding small businesses.

Muehler and his companies Altavista Capital Markets LLC, Alta Vista Securities, LLC, and Alta Vista Private Client, LLC—all unregistered brokerage firms— offered broker-dealer services to a number of small business clients. Services include finding investors and raising money from them through an online securities change that was supposedly proprietary. In exchange, fees were paid to Muehler and his brokerage firms, as well as rights to a percentage of the funds raised and equity in each business.

Muehler and his firms claimed that they have been successful in raising millions of dollars on clients’ behalf. However, in a previous SEC case, he admitted defrauding small businesses.

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Medical Products Executives Settle Insider Trading Charges

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that insider trading settlements have been reached with two ex-In Home Medical Solutions LLC officers, who are also board members. Todd M. Lavelle and Ara Chackerian are accused of illegally trading in Emeritus Corp. based on inside information.

The regulator contends that LaVelle and Chackerian purchased Emeritus securities after learning about the upcoming merger between the company and Brookdale Senior Living Inc. However, they did this before the deal was disclosed to the public. On the day of the announcement of the merger, they sold their Emeritus shares, allegedly making more than $25K and $157K, respectively, in illegal profits.

LaVelle, who is settling the case but without denying or admitting to the allegations, will pay over $25K in disgorgement, more than $2,600 in prejudgment interest, and an over $25K civil penalty. Chackerian, who is also settling without denying or admitting to the findings, will pay over $157K of disgorgement, the same amount as a civil penalty, and more than $18,600 of prejudgment interest.

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Walter A. Morales III, a money manager who for years worked with high net worth individual investors and pension funds, is now barred from the securities industry. Morales resolved the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s 2012 civil lawsuit accusing him and his Commonwealth Advisors of fraud and mismanagement this week.

The regulator contends that of the approximately $750M that his clients invested through him, Morales and his firm lost over $178M in subprime and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBSs). According to the Commission, Morales lied about heavy mortgage-backed securities losses to clients and instead tried to conceal them through trades involving his different hedge funds while touting prices that were fraudulent.

The regulator claims that Walters and his investment adviser firm recommended that the hedge funds buy into Collybus, a collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that was considered among the most high risk of such investments and the lowest of tranches. MBSs were sold into CDOs at outdated prices even while Morales was purportedly aware that the market for RMBSs had since dropped. When the CDOs kept doing poorly, Commonwealth employees were directed to engage in manipulative trading among the hedge funds they advised to hide a $32M loss sustained by one of the funds that invested in Collybus.

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In a civil settlement reached with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Deutsche Bank Securities will repay commercial mortgage-backed securities customers more than $3.7M over allegedly false and misleading statements related to their purchase of these investments. The firm and its ex-CMBS trading desk head trader Benjamin Solomon agreed to resolve the charges against them but without denying or admitting to regulator’s findings.

According to the SEC’s probe, when selling the CMBSs, Deutsche Bank (DB)’s salespeople and traders made statements that were false and misleading. This caused customers to pay too much for the securities because they were not given accurate information about how much the firm had paid for them. Deutsche Bank also is accused of not having properly designed procedures for surveillance and compliance that could stop and identify the types of wrongful behaviors that would cause commercial mortgage-backed securities buyers financial harm while allowing the firm to profit.

To resolve the CMBS fraud charges, Deutsche Bank will pay customers back all profits on the securities’ trades in which a misrepresentation was made. That figure is over $3.7M, including $1.48M of disgorgement. The bank will also pay a $750K penalty.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed securities fraud charges against Nicholas Joseph Genovese. The regulator contends that the purported hedge fund manager and his Willow Creek Advisors LLC misappropriated at least six investors’ money to pay for securities trading in his own brokerage account. Now, the SEC wants a temporary restraining order to freeze assets and stop further alleged violations.

According to the Commission’s complaint, Genovese misrepresented his previous experience in the securities industry and as a money manager, as well as the size of his business, including, that he:

· Oversaw $4B of the assets belonging to the Genovese Drug Store family.

· Ran Willow Creek Investments LP with $30B-$39B of assets under management when that figure was closer to less than $10M.

· Falsely stated that he and Willow Creek Advisors employed up to 60 people when the reality was closer to under 10.

· Claimed that his hedge fund made 30-40% investment gains annually when losses where what were actually incurred.

· Hid is criminal history, including, according to news sources, past convictions for forgery and grand larceny.

· Did not tell investors he previously filed for bankruptcy.

· Touted an education and professional history that he’d fabricated, including that he was a former Goldman Sachs (GS) partner and an ex-Bear Stearns portfolio manager, as well as had earned an MBA from Dartmouth.

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The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of an investment adviser who is challenging the liability findings against him in a securities fraud case presided over by a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) administrative law judge. Raymond Lucia, also a former radio host, was accused of misleading prospective investors about his “Buckets of Money” investment strategy by claiming the methodology he used was back-tested when that was not the case. This created a false sense of security especially among retirees who were told that their money would grow.

An SEC ALJ found him liable for fraud, including that he violated the Investment Advisers Act. Lucia was not only barred from the securities industry but also ordered to pay a $300K fine. He appealed the ruling.

Lucia also questioned whether it was constitutional for the SEC to hire administrative law judges and if they should instead be appointed rather than brought in through human resources. In 2016, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit turned down Lucia’s appeal, finding that contrary to his contention, SEC judges are not officers with the power to make decisions but are, in fact, employees. Also, the Commission has to approve their rulings.

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In its complaint, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has submitted a civil junctive action accusing Malachi Financial Products, Inc. and its principal Porter B. Bingham, of municipal bank fraud targeting Rolling Fork, Mississippi. According to the regulator, Malachi and Bingham charged the city too much for municipal advisory services involving a muni bond offering from October 2015.

Rolling Fork had hired Malachi in the capacity of municipal adviser in 2015 because of a proposed bond offering to pay for a number of improvement projects in the city. The SEC contends that after the closing of the offering, the firm and its principal submitted two invoices to the bond trustee, one—for $33,000—was for services that were never rendered and had never been authorized by the Mississippi city. The other, for $22K, was in line with what Malachi and Rolling Fork had agreed upon.

Bingham purportedly did not disclose to Rolling Fork that he had received $2,500 from Anthony Stovall, who worked for Bonwick Capital Partners. LLC, prior to Malachi recommending to the city that it retain Stovall’s firm as an underwriter for the bond offering. Rolling Fork went on to hire the underwriting firm because of the recommendation.

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Ex-Och Ziff Hedge Fund Executive Indicted in NY Over Alleged Africa Investment Fraud
A grand jury in Brooklyn, NY has indicted Michael Cohen, the ex-head of Och Ziff Capital Management’s European operations on fraud, conspiracy, and other criminal charges. According to prosecutors, Cohen hid a conflict of interest involving a mining company investment and defrauded an institutional client.

The ex-Och Ziff hedge fund executive and his former company are accused of making representations to a UK foundation that then agreed to invest up to $200M in a joint African venture in 2008. Cohen, who allegedly used the joint venture fund to purchase stock from someone who had borrowed money from him for a yacht, is accused of failing to disclose his own stake in the investment. Meantime, the person whom, CNBC reports, owed Cohen money, allegedly used funds from the stock purchase to pay him back $4M.

Cohen is accused of trying to conceal the investment scam by generating a bogus letter and making statements to the SEC, IRS, and FBI that were “materially false.”

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The US Securities and Exchange Group announced that Khaled Bassily, the ex-head of ConvergEx Groups’ transition management business, has settled institutional investor fraud charges accusing him of taking part in a scam to hide from certain clients, which included religious organizations, retirement funds, and charities, that they were paying substantially more than they thought for trading orders. Bassily, who agreed to pay more than $988K in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, plus a civil penalty, settled the case without denying or admitting to the charges.

The regulator brought the case against him in 2016. According to its complaint, over five years, Basily hid from transition management customers that their brokerage orders were being directed to an offshore affiliate where concealed charges were put into the price that they paid for selling and purchasing securities. These secret charges were an add on and frequently much higher than the commissions that customers paid for their orders. For example, stated the SEC’s complaint, one customer who paid $699K in commissions also paid $9.6M in these hidden fees.

Meantime, Bassily allegedly engaged in deceptive practices, including “false and misleading statements” to customers, working with traders to maximize theses hidden charges, and taking steps to hide these unauthorized charges from customers.

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