Articles Tagged with defrauding

Martin Shkreli to Go to Prison for Seven Years

A federal judge has sentenced former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli to seven years behind bars. Shkreli was found guilty of defrauding investors of his MSMB Capital Management hedge fund while manipulating the stock of his drug company Retrophin.

His defense team had fought for a lower sentence—12 to 18 months. They pointed out that ultimately none of the investors that Shkreli bilked lost money and he didn’t profit from his fraud. Prosecutors countered that, in fact, Shkreli had caused anywhere from $9M to $20M in losses.

A few days before his criminal sentence was issued, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ordered that about $7.36M of the ex-hedge fund manager’s assets be surrendered, including a rare Wu-Tang Clan album that he purchased for $2M. Shkreli’s legal team plans to appeal the sentence.

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Valor Capital Asset Management LLC and its owner, Texas-based investment adviser Robert Mark Magee, have settled US Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing them of defrauding investors by engaging in cherry picking. As part of the settlement, Magee is banned from the securities industry and will pay over $715K.

The SEC contends that while trading securities in the firm’s omnibus account, Magee would wait to allocate the trades until after watching their performances throughout the day. He would then allocate a disproportionate amount of the more profitable trades to his accounts while sending the trades that were not profitable to his clients. This allowed him to profit at cost to clients. The SEC believes that his ill-gotten gains from cherry picking was over $505K.

For example, notes the SEC, the way in which Magee traded and allocated El Pollo Loco Holdings is “representative” of how he allegedly engaged in cherry picking. For five trading days in a row, trades in LOCO that were profitable went to his own account. When the price went down on the sixth day, he allocated the shares to six Valor client accounts instead of selling the shares at a loss.

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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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Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has filed charges against investment adviser Thomas Riquier for allegedly defrauding investors of at least $1M in a real estate scam that has gone on for more than a quarter of a century. According to the administrative complaint, Riquier solicited funds from people, mostly older investors (some of them his firm’s clients), to buy property that was then to be sold at a profit. His employer, United Planners Financial Services of America, is charged with failure to supervise.

In its investment adviser fraud case, the regulator claims that investors’ money was used instead to buy property already belonging to Riquier. The property has yet to be improved or sold. It has not rendered any returns for investors. The state regulator notes that because the alleged scam has been going on for so long—26 years—a number of investors have passed away. The rest of them have yet to make money from the venture.

Riquier is also accused of soliciting over $830K in private loans from clients. Galvin said that this violates federal and state laws.

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