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This is a photo of the National Register of Historic Places listing with reference number 7000063

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

SEC CHARGES FORMER BANK ANALYST AND OTHERS WITH INSIDER TRADING IN FRONT OF CLIENTS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
SEC Charges Former Investment Bank Analyst and Two Others With Insider Trading in Advance of Client Deals
08/25/2015 01:45 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former investment bank analyst with illegally tipping his close friend with confidential information about clients involved in impending mergers and acquisitions of technology companies.  The SEC also charged his friend and another individual with trading on the inside information.

The SEC alleges that Ashish Aggarwal, who worked in J.P. Morgan’s San Francisco office, gleaned sensitive nonpublic information about two acquisition deals from colleagues who were working on them.  Aggarwal tipped Shahriyar Bolandian, who traded on the basis of the illegal tips in his own accounts as well as accounts belonging to his father and sister.  Bolandian also tipped his friend Kevan Sadigh so he could trade on the confidential information.  Bolandian worked at Sadigh’s e-commerce company, and together they made more than $672,000 in combined profits from their insider trading.

The SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit detected the insider trading through trading data analysis tools in its Analysis and Detection Center.

“We allege that Aggarwal, Bolandian, and Sadigh misused an investment bank’s confidential information for their personal benefit and victimized the bank, its clients, and investors,” said Robert A. Cohen, Acting Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit.  “We will continue to proactively identify and combat serial insider trading schemes, particularly when it involves industry professionals.”

In a parallel action, the U.S. Department of Justice today announced criminal charges against Aggarwal, who lives in San Francisco, as well as Bolandian and Sadigh, who each live in Los Angeles.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California:

Aggarwal misappropriated confidential information about two J.P. Morgan-advised deals: Integrated Device Technology’s planned acquisition of PLX Technology in 2012 and salesforce.com’s acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013.
Aggarwal repeatedly communicated with Bolandian, his friend since college, in the days and weeks leading up to public announcements about the deals.

Bolandian and Sadigh bought the same series of call options in PLX Technology and ExactTarget.  Their trades were often within hours or even minutes of each other, and typically were 100 percent of the daily trading volume of those option series.
One of the brokerage accounts used by Bolandian was located offshore in the Bahamas.  He opened and funded the account with his credit card a week before the ExactTarget deal was announced.

Bolandian conducted various trades in his accounts on Aggarwal’s behalf in an arrangement that enabled Aggarwal to circumvent J.P. Morgan’s pre-clearance rules and potentially share in any profits.

The SEC’s complaint charges Aggarwal, Bolandian, and Sadigh with violating Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3.  The complaint seeks a final judgment ordering Aggarwal, Bolandian, and Sadigh to pay disgorgement of their ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties, and permanent injunctions from future violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Paul E. Kim and Deborah A. Tarasevich of the Market Abuse Unit with assistance from John Rymas in the unit’s Analysis and Detection Center.  The case is being supervised by Mr. Cohen and fellow Acting Co-Chief Joseph Sansone.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by David S. Mendel and Matthew P. Cohen.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Criminal Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SEC ACCUSES MAN OF COMMITTING FRAUD USING EB-5 IMMIGRANT INVESTOR PILOT PROGRAM

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
08/25/2015 11:05 AM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced an asset freeze obtained against a man in Bellevue, Wash., accused of defrauding Chinese investors seeking U.S. residency through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program by investing in his companies.

The SEC alleges that Lobsang Dargey and his “Path America” companies have raised at least $125 million for two real estate projects: a skyscraper in downtown Seattle and a mixed-use commercial and residential development containing a farmers’ market in Everett, Wash.  But Dargey diverted $14 million for unrelated real estate projects and $3 million for personal use including the purchase of his $2.5 million home and cash withdrawals at casinos.

“We allege that Dargey promised investors their money would be used to develop specific real estate projects approved under the EB-5 program, but he misused millions of dollars to enrich himself and jeopardized investors’ prospects for U.S. residency,” said Jina L. Choi, Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington:

Under the EB-5 program, foreign citizens may qualify for U.S. residency if they make a qualified investment of at least $500,000 in a specified project that creates or preserves at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers.
Dargey and his companies obtained investments from 250 Chinese investors under the auspices of the EB-5 program.  Path America SnoCo and Path America KingCo operated as regional centers through which EB-5 investments could be made.
Dargey told U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and EB-5 investors that he would use investor money only for the Seattle skyscraper and Everett, Wash., projects.

Dargey and his companies misled investors about their ability to obtain permanent residency by investing in the Path America projects.  For example, Dargey knew that USCIS can deny investors’ residency applications if investor money is used for a project that materially departs from the approved business plan presented to USCIS.  Dargey failed to tell investors that he and his companies had departed from the business plan by using investor money for personal expenses and unrelated projects.

Late yesterday, the court granted the SEC’s request for an asset freeze and issued an order restraining Dargey and his companies from soliciting additional investors.  The SEC also was granted an order expediting discovery, prohibiting the destruction of documents, and requiring Dargey to repatriate funds he transferred to overseas bank accounts.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Brent Smyth and Michael Foley of the San Francisco office and supervised by Steven Buchholz.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Mr. Smyth and Susan LaMarca.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the USCIS.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

SEC ANNOUNCES MAN CONVICTED OF INSIDER TRADING RECEIVES HOME CONFINEMENT SENTENCE

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
Litigation Release No. 23323 / August 19, 2015
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Eric McPhail, et al., Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-12958 (District of Massachusetts, Complaint filed July 11, 2014)
Defendant in SEC Insider Trading Case Sentenced by Massachusetts Federal Court in Parallel Criminal Action

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that, on August 17, 2015, Douglas Parigian was sentenced to eight months of home confinement and 3 years of supervised release for his role in an insider trading ring that traded on inside information about Massachusetts-based American Superconductor Corporation. Parigian had previously pled guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy and securities fraud for his conduct. The criminal charges against Parigian arose out of the same conduct that is the subject of a civil insider trading action filed by the Commission against Parigian and others in July 2014.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts indicted Parigian and another defendant, Eric McPhail, in a Superseding Information dated May 11, 2015. The Information charged that McPhail had a history, pattern and practice of sharing confidences with an individual who had material, nonpublic information concerning American Superconductor's quarterly earnings and other business activities (the "Inside Information"). This individual provided McPhail with the Inside Information with the understanding that it would be kept confidential. Instead, McPhail used email and other means to provide the Inside information to his friends, including Parigian, with the intent that they profit by buying and selling American Superconductor stock and options. Parigian used this information to profit on the purchase and sale of American Superconductor stock and options.

In July 2014, the Commission filed a civil injunctive against Eric McPhail and six of his golfing buddies, including Parigian, alleging that McPhail repeatedly provided non-public information about American Superconductor. McPhail's source was an American Superconductor executive who belonged to the same country club as McPhail and was a close friend. According to the complaint, from July 2009 through April 2011, the executive told McPhail about American Superconducter's expected earnings, contracts, and other major pending corporate developments, trusting that McPhail would keep the information confidential. Instead, McPhail misappropriated the inside information and tipped his friends, who improperly traded on the information. Four defendants settled the SEC's charges, without admitting or denying the allegations, by consenting to the entry of judgments permanently enjoining them from violating the antifraud provisions of the Exchange Act, paying disgorgement and civil penalties. The SEC's case against Parigian, McPhail and another individual, Jamie Meadows, is ongoing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SEC CHARGES COMPANY FOUNDER WITH SELLING UNREGISTERED SECURITIES IN AN ALLEGED FRAUD SCHEME

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23321 / August 17, 2015
Securities and Exchange Commission v. EnviraTrends, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 8:15CV1903T27TGW (M.D. Fla., August 17, 2015)
SEC Charges Development Stage Company and Founder in Unregistered Offering Fraud Scheme

On August 17, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a settled civil injunctive action against Russell Haraburda, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of EnviraTrends, Inc., a Sarasota, Florida-based development stage company purportedly in the business of selling pet memorial products. The Commission's action also charged EnviraTrends. The Commission's complaint alleges that Haraburda and EnviraTrends engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell EnviraTrends securities to the public in unregistered offerings based on false and misleading statements regarding the company's activities and financial condition, and the purposes for which investors' funds would be used, while Haraburda misappropriated most of the money raised from investors for his own personal use. The Commission charges Haraburda and EnviraTrends with violating the antifraud, registration, and other provisions of the federal securities laws.

The Commission's complaint, filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida, also alleges:

From mid-2009 until at least February 2014, Haraburda and EnviraTrends raised over $2.3 million through the sale of EnviraTrends stock to over 100 investors in thirteen states.

In soliciting these funds, Haraburda and EnviraTrends made numerous oral and written misrepresentations, including in filings with the SEC, regarding EnviraTrends' activities, operations, and finances. Haraburda and EnviraTrends repeatedly assured investors that their money would be used to build the company's business, including arranging for EnviraTrends' shares to be listed on a stock exchange or quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board. Contrary to these representations, Haraburda misappropriated $1.8 million, or 78% of the funds obtained from investors, spending it on personal expenses, including his mortgage payments, car and motorcycle payments, alimony, shopping sprees, and personal travel. EnviraTrends never developed or sold a product or service, never generated revenue, and a public market for EnviraTrends shares was never created.

In annual and quarterly reports and other filings EnviraTrends made with the Commission, Haraburda and EnviraTrends falsely stated that Haraburda had loaned funds to the company. But Haraburda did not make any loans to the Company. While there were occasional transfers of small sums from Haraburda's personal bank account to the company's bank accounts, the funds transferred were investor funds that Haraburda had previously misappropriated.

Haraburda further concealed his misappropriations by falsely stating to auditors that the company owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus creating a pretext for his personal use of investor funds.

After the Commission's investigation of this matter began, Haraburda in 2014 created sham promissory notes purporting to show that he intended to repay the amounts he had misappropriated.

Haraburda and EnviraTrends, without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, have agreed to the entry of a final judgment providing permanent injunctive relief, barring Haraburda from serving as an officer or director of a public company, barring Haraburda from being associated with any offering of penny stock, and ordering Haraburda and EnviraTrends to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. The final judgment would provide permanent injunctive relief against Haraburda and EnviraTrends under the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5. The final judgment would enjoin Haraburda from violating the registration provisions of Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act; the certification requirements of Exchange Act Rules 13a-14 and 15d-14; and the prohibition against misrepresentations to auditors in Exchange Act Rule 13b2-2; and from aiding and abetting violations of the reporting provisions of Section 13(a) and 15(d)(1) of the Exchange Act, and Exchange Act Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, 13a-13, and 15d-1. The final judgment would further enjoin EnviraTrends from violating Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act; and Section 13(a) and 15(d)(1) of the Exchange Act and Exchange Act Rules 12b-20, 13a-1, 13a-13, and 15d-1. The final judgment also would order Haraburda and EnviraTrends to jointly pay more than $2.3 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, but would waive these payments, except for $150,000, based their financial condition. The proposed settlement is subject to the approval of the District Court.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Natalie Shioji, Ranah Esmaili, Donato Furlano, and Lisa Deitch, and assisted by Trial Attorney Michael Semler.

The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TWO CITIGROUP AFFILIATES WILL PAY 180 MILLION TO SETTLE FRAUD CHARGES

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
Citigroup Affiliates to Pay $180 Million to Settle Hedge Fund Fraud Charges
08/17/2015 10:35 AM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that two Citigroup affiliates have agreed to pay nearly $180 million to settle charges that they defrauded investors in two hedge funds by claiming they were safe, low-risk, and suitable for traditional bond investors.  The funds later crumbled and eventually collapsed during the financial crisis.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (CGMI) and Citigroup Alternative Investments LLC (CAI) agreed to bear all costs of distributing the $180 million in settlement funds to harmed investors.

An SEC investigation found that the Citigroup affiliates made false and misleading representations to investors in the ASTA/MAT fund and the Falcon fund, which collectively raised nearly $3 billion in capital from approximately 4,000 investors before collapsing.  In talking with investors, they did not disclose the very real risks of the funds.  Even as the funds began to collapse and CAI accepted nearly $110 million in additional investments, the Citigroup affiliates did not disclose the dire condition of the funds and continued to assure investors that they were low-risk, well-capitalized investments with adequate liquidity.  Many of the misleading representations made by Citigroup employees were at odds with disclosures made in marketing documents and written materials provided to investors.

“Firms cannot insulate themselves from liability for their employees’ misrepresentations by invoking the fine print contained in written disclosures,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.  “Advisers at these Citigroup affiliates were supposed to be looking out for investors’ best interests, but falsely assured them they were making safe investments even when the funds were on the brink of disaster.”

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding:

The ASTA/MAT fund was a municipal arbitrage fund that purchased municipal bonds and used a Treasury or LIBOR swap to hedge interest rate risks.
The Falcon fund was a multi-strategy fund that invested in ASTA/MAT and other fixed income strategies, such as CDOs, CLOs, and asset-backed securities.
The funds, both highly leveraged, were sold exclusively to advisory clients of Citigroup Private Bank or Smith Barney by financial advisers associated with CGMI.  Both funds were managed by CAI.

Investors in these funds effectively paid advisory fees for two tiers of investment advice: first from the financial advisers of CGMI and secondly from the fund manager, CAI.

Neither Falcon nor ASTA/MAT was a low-risk investment akin to a bond alternative as investors were repeatedly told.

CGMI and CAI failed to control the misrepresentations made to investors as their employees misleadingly minimized the significant risk of loss resulting from the funds’ investment strategy and use of leverage among other things.
CAI failed to adopt and implement policies and procedures that prevented the financial advisers and fund manager from making contradictory and false representations.

CGMI and CAI consented to the SEC order without admitting or denying the findings that both firms willfully violated Sections 17(a)(2) and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933, GCMI willfully violated Section 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and CAI willfully violated Section 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rules 206(4)-7 and 206(4)-8.  Both firms agreed to be censured and must cease and desist from committing future violations of these provisions.

The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Olivia Zach, Kerri Palen, David Stoelting, and Celeste Chase of the New York Regional Office, and supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa.

Monday, August 17, 2015

$50,000 FINE IMPOSED ON FORMER BROKER, SALES AGENT FOR UNLAWFUL PROMOTION/SALE OF SECURITIES

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
Litigation Release No. 23315 / August 12, 2015

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Inofin, Inc., Michael J. Cuomo, Kevin J. Mann, Sr., Melissa George, Thomas Kevin Keough, David Affeldt, and Nancy Keough, Civil Action No. 1:11-CV-10633 (D. Mass., Complaint Filed April 14, 2011)

Court Imposes $50,000 Civil Penalty On Former Broker and Sales Agent of Massachusetts Company

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has imposed a $50,000 civil penalty against Thomas Kevin Keough ("Kevin Keough") for his role in the unlawful promotion and sale of unregistered securities issued by Inofin, Inc., a subprime auto-financing company. Previously, the Court had entered judgment ordering Kevin Keough (and his wife) to pay a total of over $350,000 in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.

Kevin Keough was a defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Commission against Inofin, its former executives, and its sales agents alleging they illegally raised at least $110 million from hundreds of individual investors through the sale of unregistered Inofin notes and that Inofin and its executives lied about the company's financial performance and how Inofin was using its investors' money. The Commission alleged that Kevin Keough unlawfully earned commissions by promoting and selling Inofin's unregistered securities and that he concealed his activities from his broker-dealer employers by directing Inofin pay his illegal commissions to his wife, Nancy, who was named as a relief defendant in the Commission's action for the purpose of recovering these funds from her.

In February 2015, Keough agreed to the entry of a consent judgment in partial settlement of the claims against him. Entered by the Court on February 20, 2015, the consent judgment ordered Keough to disgorge $368,430 in illegal commissions, to pay an additional $44,500 in interest and permanently enjoined him from violating Section 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act"). In a related action, the Commission issued an Order on March 3, 2015, barring Kevin Keough from certain parts of the securities industry, with the right to apply for reentry to the industry after three years.

As part of the February 2015 consent judgment, the Commission and Kevin Keough agreed that the Court should decide whether to impose a civil penalty on him. After briefing and presentation of the evidence by both sides, the Court ruled on August 5, 2015 that Kevin Keough should pay a civil penalty in the amount of $50,000. As a result, on August 12, 2015, the Court supplemented its judgment to impose the additional $50,000 civil penalty upon Kevin Keough.

The Commission previously obtained final judgments by consent against Inofin's former executives Michael J. Cuomo of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Kevin Mann, Sr. of Marshfield, Massachusetts and Melissa George of Duxbury, Massachusetts and against another Inofin sales agent, David Affeldt of Potomac, Maryland. The judgments ordered Cuomo, George, Mann, and Affeldt to pay disgorgement and civil penalties and permanently enjoined them from violating the Exchange Act and the Securities Act. The SEC's action remains pending against bankrupt Inofin.
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