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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

CFTC ALLEGES INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANY RAN $53 MILLION WORLDWIDE OFF-EXCHANGE FOREX SCHEME

FROM: COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

CFTC Charges Australian Resident Senen Pousa, U.S. Resident Joel Friant, and Their Company, Investment Intelligence Corp., with Operating a Fraudulent $53 Million Worldwide Off-Exchange Forex Scheme, and Texas-based Michael Dillard and Elevation Group, Inc. with Registration Violations

Investment Intelligence does business as ProphetMax Managed FX

Federal court issues order freezing assets of defendants Pousa, Friant, and Investment Intelligence, and prohibiting destruction of books and records

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil enforcement action charging Senen Pousa of Australia, Joel Friant of Bellingham, Wash., and their company, Investment Intelligence Corporation (IIC), an Australian corporation, with operating a fraudulent off-exchange foreign currency (forex) scheme. The complaint also charges Michael Dillard and Elevation Group, Inc., both of Austin, Texas, with registration violations. The scheme allegedly accepted at least $53 million from at least 960 clients worldwide, including at least 697 clients in the United States, and clients in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore, among other countries. None of the defendants has ever been registered with the CFTC.

On the same day the CFTC complaint was filed, September 18, 2012, Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an emergency order freezing the assets of defendants Pousa, Friant, and IIC and prohibiting the destruction of books and records.

The CFTC complaint alleges that from at least January 1, 2012 through the present IIC, through Pousa, Friant and its other agents, and defendants Dillard and Elevation Group, utilized "wealth creation" webcasts, webinars, podcasts, emails, and other online seminars via the Internet to directly and indirectly solicit actual and prospective clients worldwide to open forex trading accounts at IIC. The complaint further alleges that clients were promised by IIC, through Pousa, Friant, and other agents 1) a monthly return of 9 percent, 2) that IIC’s managed forex trading would risk less than 3 percent of a client’s capital per transaction, 3) that IIC was able to limit the risk inherent to forex trading by limiting its managed forex trading to 2 to 5 trades per month, and 4) that IIC has six "proprietary traders" working 24 hours a day trading clients’ funds. The CFTC complaint alleges that all of these representations to clients were false.

On or about May 16-17, 2012, the complaint alleges that clients suffered a loss of over 60 percent of their investment, when IIC, by and through its agents, entered over 200 forex trades in each client’s account in violation of the representations made by IIC, by and through its agents.

The CFTC complaint seeks restitution, rescission, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, trading and registration bans, and permanent injunctions against further violations of the anti-fraud provisions of federal commodities laws, as charged.

Further, on September 18, 2012, the court entered a consent order of permanent injunction and ancillary equitable relief against defendants Michael Dillard and Elevation Group, Inc. According to the consent order, the court found that Elevation Group acted as an Introducing Broker and solicited orders from non-ECPs in connection with leveraged forex transactions without registering with the CFTC. The court further found that Dillard acted as an unregistered Associated Person of the Elevation Group, according to the order.

The CFTC greatly appreciates the assistance of the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, U.K. Financial Services Authority, Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority, Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, Financial Markets Authority of New Zealand, and New Zealand Serious Fraud Office.

Further, the CFTC greatly appreciates the assistance of the Texas State Securities Board, Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this matter are Kyong Koh, Michael Amakor, JonMarc Buffa, Mary Lutz, Timothy Mulreany, Paul Hayeck, and Joan Manley.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

SEC CHARGES FORMER CEO AND CHAIRMAN OF MAMTEK U.S. WITH FRAUD IN THE OFFER AND SALE OF MUNICIPAL BONDS

FROM: SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, charging former CEO and chairman of Mamtek U.S., Bruce Cole, with fraud related to the offer and sale of municipal bonds.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Cole executed a scheme to defraud investors and made material misrepresentations and omissions in connection with the July 2010 offer and sale of $39 million of appropriations credit bonds backed by the City of Moberly, Missouri ("Moberly"). The bond offering was intended to finance a sucralose processing plant in Moberly that Mamtek would construct and operate. The SEC alleges that Cole executed his fraud by directing unsuspecting Mamtek employees to take actions that diverted over $900,000 in bond proceeds for his and his wife’s personal use and by misleading city officials and bondholders about the use of those proceeds.

According to the complaint, prior to the close of the bond offering, Cole directed Mamtek employees and consultants to create false documentation for a nonexistent company to falsely justify fictitious expenses for the sucralose project. The complaint alleges he then instructed Mamtek employees to wire his wife, Nanette H. Cole, $900,000 in bond proceeds, which were used to pay among other things, their mortgage, credit card debt, homeowners and auto insurance, and household employees, in part, under the false pretense that she was an agent of the sham company.

The complaint further alleges that as a precondition to the issuance of the bonds, Cole signed a certificate representing certain portions of the Official Statement delivered to bondholders for the $39 million offering were not false or misleading. However, at the time that Cole signed the document, he had already directed the creation of the false documentation and had made preliminary plans to divert and misuse the bond proceeds, rendering his representation in the closing certificate false. In doing so, he misrepresented the use of bond proceeds and the accuracy of the Official Statement.

By engaging in this conduct, Cole has violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, for making material misrepresentations and omissions and engaging in a scheme to defraud the city and bondholders. Through this Complaint, the Commission seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty. The Commission further names Nanette Cole as a relief defendant because she obtained the bond proceeds from her husband, and seeks return of those funds.

Friday, September 28, 2012

CEO CHARGED BY SEC WITH FRAUD RELATED TO BOND MARKET

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, charging former CEO and chairman of Mamtek U.S., Bruce Cole, with fraud related to the offer and sale of municipal bonds.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Cole executed a scheme to defraud investors and made material misrepresentations and omissions in connection with the July 2010 offer and sale of $39 million of appropriations credit bonds backed by the City of Moberly, Missouri ("Moberly"). The bond offering was intended to finance a sucralose processing plant in Moberly that Mamtek would construct and operate. The SEC alleges that Cole executed his fraud by directing unsuspecting Mamtek employees to take actions that diverted over $900,000 in bond proceeds for his and his wife’s personal use and by misleading city officials and bondholders about the use of those proceeds.

According to the complaint, prior to the close of the bond offering, Cole directed Mamtek employees and consultants to create false documentation for a nonexistent company to falsely justify fictitious expenses for the sucralose project. The complaint alleges he then instructed Mamtek employees to wire his wife, Nanette H. Cole, $900,000 in bond proceeds, which were used to pay among other things, their mortgage, credit card debt, homeowners and auto insurance, and household employees, in part, under the false pretense that she was an agent of the sham company.

The complaint further alleges that as a precondition to the issuance of the bonds, Cole signed a certificate representing certain portions of the Official Statement delivered to bondholders for the $39 million offering were not false or misleading. However, at the time that Cole signed the document, he had already directed the creation of the false documentation and had made preliminary plans to divert and misuse the bond proceeds, rendering his representation in the closing certificate false. In doing so, he misrepresented the use of bond proceeds and the accuracy of the Official Statement.

By engaging in this conduct, Cole has violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, for making material misrepresentations and omissions and engaging in a scheme to defraud the city and bondholders. Through this Complaint, the Commission seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty. The Commission further names Nanette Cole as a relief defendant because she obtained the bond proceeds from her husband, and seeks return of those funds.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

SEC EDUCATES PUBLIC ON "AFFINITY FRAUD"

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Alert to help educate investors about affinity fraud, a type of investment scam that preys upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities or the elderly.

What is Affinity Fraud?

Affinity fraud almost always involves either a fake investment or an investment where the fraudster lies about important details (such as the risk of loss, the track record of the investment, or the background of the promoter of the scheme). Many affinity frauds are
Ponzi or pyramid schemes, where money given to the promoter by new investors is paid to earlier investors to create the illusion that the so-called investment is successful. This tricks new investors into investing in the scheme, and lulls existing investors into believing their investments are safe. In reality, even if there really is an actual investment, the investment typically makes little or no profit. The fraudster simply takes new investors’ money for the fraudster’s own personal use, often using some of it to pay off existing investors who may be growing suspicious. Eventually, when the supply of investor money dries up and current investors demand to be paid, the scheme collapses and investors discover that most or all of their money is gone.

How Does Affinity Fraud Work?

Fraudsters who carry out affinity scams frequently are (or pretend to be) members of the group they are trying to defraud. The group could be a religious group, such as a particular denomination or church. It could be an ethnic group or an immigrant community. It could be a racial minority. It could be members of a particular workforce – even members of the military have been targets of these frauds. Fraudsters target any group they think they can convince to trust them with the group members’ hard-earned savings.

At its core, affinity fraud exploits the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Fraudsters use a number of methods to get access to the group. A common way is by enlisting respected leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme. Those leaders may not realize the "investment" is actually a scam, and they may become unwitting victims of the fraud themselves.

Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam. Victims often fail to notify authorities or pursue legal remedies. Instead, they try to work things out within the group. This is particularly true where the fraudsters have used respected community or religious leaders to convince others to join the investment.

How to Avoid Affinity Fraud

Here are a few tips to help you avoid affinity fraud.

Even if you know the person making the investment offer, be sure to research the person’s background, as well as the investment itself – no matter how trustworthy the person who brings the investment opportunity to your attention seems to be. Be aware that the person telling you about the investment may have been fooled into believing that the investment is legitimate when it is not.
Never make an investment based solely on the recommendation of a member of an organization or group to which you belong. This is especially true if the recommendation is made online. An investment pitch made through an online group of which you are a member, or on a chat room or bulletin board catered to an interest you have, may be a fraud.
Do not fall for investments that promise spectacular profits or "guaranteed" returns. Similarly, be extremely leery of any investment that is said to have no risks. Very few investments are risk-free. Promises of quick and high profits, with little or no risk, are classic warning signs of fraud.
Be skeptical of any investment opportunity that you can’t get put in writing. Fraudsters often avoid putting things in writing. Avoid an investment if you are told they do "not have the time to put in writing" the particulars about the investment. You should also be suspicious if you are told to keep the investment opportunity confidential or a secret.
Don’t be pressured or rushed into buying an investment before you have a chance to research the "opportunity." Just because someone you know made money, or claims to have made money, doesn’t mean you will, too. Be especially skeptical of investments that are pitched as "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunities, particularly when the salesperson bases the recommendation on "inside" or confidential information.

Recent Affinity Fraud Schemes

The SEC’s Division of Enforcement regularly investigates and prosecutes affinity frauds targeting a wide spectrum of groups. Here are examples of some recent cases.

SEC Charges Ponzi Scheme Promoter Targeting Primarily African-American Churchgoers

Ponzi scheme promoter sold promissory notes bearing purported annual interest rates of 12% to 20%, telling primarily African-American investors that the funds would be used to purchase and support small businesses such as a laundry, juice bar, or gas station. Promoter also sold "sweepstakes machines" that he claimed would generate investor returns of as much as 300% or more in the first year.

SEC Charges Company and its Owners with Conducting an Offering Fraud Targeting Christian Investors

Ponzi scheme promoters raised almost $6 million from nearly 80 evangelical Christian investors through fraudulent, unregistered offerings of stock and short-term, high-yield promissory notes issued by their company, which was marketed as a voice-over-internet-protocol video services provider around the world.

SEC Shuts Down Ponzi Scheme Targeting Persian-Jewish Community in Los Angeles

SEC obtained an emergency court order to halt an ongoing $7.5 million Ponzi scheme that targeted members of the Persian-Jewish community in Los Angeles. The SEC’s complaint alleged that the promoter, himself a member of the Persian-Jewish Los Angeles community, raised funds from 11 investors and used nearly $1.6 million investor funds to buy jewelry, high-end cars, and VIP tickets to sporting events. He lured investors with promises of exorbitant returns in purported pre-IPO shares of well-known companies.

SEC Charges South Florida Man in Investment Fraud Scheme

Fraudster raised nearly $11 million claiming returns as high as 26%. He typically met and pitched prospective investors over meals at expensive restaurants in and around Fort Lauderdale. His clients typically came to him through word-of-mouth referrals among friends and relatives. A significant number of the victims of his scheme were members of the gay community in Wilton Manors, Florida.

SEC Halts Affinity Fraud Aimed at the Hispanic community

Defendants raised $817,500 from investors representing to them that their funds would be used to develop a financial services firm serving the Hispanic community. The promoter used a large part of the investors’ money to engage unsuccessfully in high risk "day-trading" of stocks, pay personal living, travel and entertainment expenses or make other, unexplained expenditures with no connection to the purported start-up business activities.

SEC Charges Real Estate Developer in Miami Affinity Fraud

Miami-based developer conducted an affinity fraud and ponzi scheme involving real estate investments that raised $135 million from more than 400 investors, primarily from the South Florida Cuban exile community. Among other things, the developer paid existing investors with new investors’ funds and assigned the same real estate collateral to multiple investors.

SEC Halts Online Affinity Fraud

Fraudster raised at least $2.4 million from at least five individuals in 2008 and 2009. He offered and sold promissory notes and convinced investors to grant him trading authority over money contained in online brokerage accounts. While doing so, he misrepresented his intended use of the money, the risks of his trading, the source of the money used to pay the guaranteed fixed returns, and falsely guaranteed repayment of investors’ principal.

What Should You Do If You Suspect Affinity Fraud?

If you think you may be aware of a possible affinity fraud – or may have lost money in an affinity fraud – please contact the SEC through the
SEC Complaint Center, http://www.sec.gov/complaint/select.shtml. You can also contact your state’s securities administrator. You can find links and addresses for your state regulator by visiting the North American Securities Administrators Association’s website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

COLLATERALIZED DEBT OBLIGATIONS CASE SETTLED FOR $23 MILLION

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C., Sept. 7, 2012The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that New York-based investment advisory firm ICP Asset Management and its founder and president Thomas C. Priore have agreed to settle the agency’s charges that they defrauded several collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) they managed.

ICP, Priore, and related entities have agreed to pay more than $23 million to settle the case the
SEC filed against them in June 2010 in federal court in Manhattan. The SEC alleged they engaged in fraudulent practices and misrepresentations that caused the CDOs to overpay for securities and lose millions of

dollars. Priore and the ICP companies also improperly obtained fees and undisclosed profits at the expense of the CDOs and their investors.

"The settlement with Priore and ICP sends a clear message that investment advisers must always act in the best interests of their advisory clients, even if those clients are sophisticated investors," said George S. Canellos, Deputy Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. "When advisers put their own interests ahead of their clients’ interests, the SEC will seek to hold them accountable."

The court approved the settlement terms on September 6. The final judgment orders Priore to pay disgorgement of $797,337, prejudgment interest of $215,045, and a penalty of $487,618. ICP and its holding company Institutional Credit Partners LLC are required, on a joint and several basis, to pay disgorgement of $13,916,005 and prejudgment interest of $3,709,028. ICP also must pay a penalty of $650,000. An affiliated broker-dealer ICP Securities LLC is ordered to pay disgorgement of $1,637,581, prejudgment interest of $301,893, and a penalty of $1,939,474. Priore also agreed to settle an administrative proceeding against him and be barred from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, or transfer agent, and from participating in any offering of a penny stock. He has a right to reapply for association or participation after a period of five years.

Priore and the ICP companies also consented, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, to permanent injunctions enjoining them from future violations of the securities laws that they were alleged to have violated, which include Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 10(b) and 15(c)(1)(A) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-3 and 10b-5, and Sections 206(1), (2), (3), and (4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rules 204-2, 206(4)-7 and 206(4)-8.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Celeste A. Chase, Joseph Boryshansky, Joshua Pater, Susannah Dunn, and Kenneth Gottlieb of the New York Regional Office. Joseph Boryshansky led the litigation with assistance from Jack Kaufman, Mark Germann, Joshua Pater, and Susannah Dunn.

Monday, September 24, 2012

SEC CHARGES INVESTMENT ADVISER OF RUNNING $37 MILLION PONZI SCHEME


FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed fraud charges against a Portland, Oregon-based investment adviser who perpetrated a long-running Ponzi scheme that raised over $37 million from more than 100 investors in the Pacific Northwest and across the country.

The SEC alleges that Yusaf Jawed used false marketing materials that boasted double-digit returns to lure people to invest their money into several hedge funds he managed. He then improperly redirected their money into accounts he personally controlled. As part of the scheme, Jawed created phony assets, sent bogus account statements to investors, and manufactured a sham buyout of the funds to make investors think their hedge fund interests would soon be redeemed. Jawed misused investor money to pay off earlier investors, pay his own expenses and travel, and create the overall illusion of success and achievement to impress investors.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Portland, Jawed managed a number of hedge funds through at least two companies he controlled: Grifphon Asset Management LLC and Grifphon Holdings LLC. Jawed’s marketing materials claimed that the Grifphon funds earned double-digit returns year after year even as the S&P 500 Index declined. For certain funds, Jawed also falsely claimed they would invest in publicly-traded securities and that their assets were maintained at reputable financial institutions.

The SEC alleges that Jawed instead invested very little of the more than $37 million that he raised from investors. For one fund, 70 percent of the money raised was either paid in redemptions to investors in other funds, paid to finders, or merely transferred to accounts belonging to Grifphon Asset Management or other entities that Jawed controlled. Jawed concealed the fraud by telling Grifphon’s bookkeepers that the money transfers represented purchases of offshore bonds – though in reality the purported investment was a sham entity supposedly managed by Jawed’s unemployed aunt who lives in Bangladesh.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Jawed further deceived investors as the funds were collapsing by telling them that independent third parties were buying the Grifphon funds’ alleged assets at a premium. In truth, the so-called third-parties were sham entities originally formed by Grifphon and Jawed containing no assets, no income, and no ability to pay for the funds’ alleged assets.

The SEC’s complaint against Jawed additionally charges Robert P. Custis, an attorney who Jawed hired to assist him in the fraud. Custis sent false and misleading statements to investors about the status of the purported purchase of the Grifphon funds’ assets. Custis consistently misrepresented that this purchase was imminent and would result in investors’ investments being repaid at a profit.

By engaging in the above conduct, Jawed, GAM, and Grifphon Holdings violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. By engaging in the above conduct, Custis violated Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder and aided and abetted violations of Section 206(4) and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The Commission seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement and prejudgment interest, civil penalty, and other relief as appropriate against them.

The SEC filed separate complaints against two others connected to Jawed’s scheme. Those complaints allege that Jacques Nichols – a Portland-based attorney – falsely claimed to investors that an independent third party would pay tens of millions of dollars to buy the hedge funds’ alleged assets at a premium, and that Jawed’s associate, Lyman Bruhn, of Vancouver, Wash., ran a separate Ponzi scheme and induced investments through false claims he was investing in "blue chip" stocks.

Without admitting or denying the allegations, Nichols, Bruhn, and two entities Bruhn controlled (Pearl Asset Management, LLC and Sasquatch Capital Management, LLC) agreed to settle the SEC’s charges. Along with other relief, Bruhn consented to the entry of permanent injunctions against violations of the Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1), 206(2), 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. Along with other relief, Nichols consented to the entry of a permanent injunction against violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and aiding and abetting violations of Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The SEC’s litigation continues against Jawed, the two Grifphon entities, and Custis.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

BROKER GETS ASSETS FROZEN IN BK INSIDER TRADING CASE

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2012The Securities and Exchange Commission today obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of a stockbroker who used nonpublic information from a customer and engaged in insider trading ahead of Burger King’s announcement that it was being acquired by a New York private equity firm.

The SEC alleges that Waldyr Da Silva Prado Neto, a citizen of Brazil who was working for Wells Fargo in Miami, learned about the impending acquisition from a brokerage customer who invested at least $50 million in a fund managed by private equity firm 3G Capital Partners Ltd. and used to acquire Burger King in 2010. Prado misused the confidential information to illegally trade in Burger King stock for $175,000 in illicit profits, and he tipped others living in Brazil and elsewhere who also traded on the nonpublic information.

The SEC obtained the asset freeze in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The agency took the emergency action to prevent Prado from transferring his assets outside of U.S. jurisdiction. Prado recently abandoned his most current job at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, put his Miami home up for sale, and began transferring all of his assets out of the country.

"Prado’s e-mails and other communications may have been sent from Brazil and may have been in Portuguese, but our commitment to prosecute illegal insider trading in U.S. markets knows no geographic or language barrier," said Sanjay Wadhwa, Deputy Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit and Associate Director of the New York Regional Office.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Prado’s insider trading in Burger King stock occurred from May 17 to Sept. 1, 2010. At the time, Prado was the representative on the account used by the customer to transfer his investment to 3G Capital. The customer had been with Prado for more than 10 years and often shared his confidential financial information with the understanding that it was to remain confidential. Prado had repeated contact with the customer by phone and e-mail as well as in person in Brazil during the time period that Prado traded Burger King securities.

The SEC alleges that Prado began his illegal trading while on a business trip to Brazil, during which he sent an e-mail to a friend that – translated from Portuguese – read, "I’m in Brazil with information that cannot be sent by email. You can’t miss it…." Prado later told his friend on a phone call that night that he heard 3G Capital was going to take Burger King private. The friend, a hedge fund manager in Miami, warned Prado that he should not trade on this information and should not encourage any of his customers to trade either.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Prado went on to tip at least four of his customers who eventually traded in Burger King stock based on nonpublic information about the impending acquisition. For example, just minutes after Prado sent the May 17 e-mail to his friend in Miami, he sent an e-mail to one of those customers which, again translated from Portuguese, read, " … if you are around call me at the hotel … I have some info…You have to hear this." A 10-minute phone conversation followed, and the customer purchased out-of-the-money Burger King call options during the next two days. In August 2010 Prado was on another business trip to Brazil, the same customer sent Prado an e-mail which translated to, "[i]s the sandwich deal going to happen?" Prado replied, "Vai sim," which means, "Yes it’s going to happen." He continued, "[e]verything is 100% under control. I was embarrassed to ask about timing. The last ‘vol’ got in the way." Following these e-mails, the customer – identified as Tippee A in the SEC’s complaint – made additional purchases in Burger King call options. The customer’s total insider trading profits amounted to more than $1.68 million.

The SEC’s complaint against Prado seeks a permanent injunction from violations of Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder, disgorgement with prejudgment interest and monetary penalties.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Megan Bergstrom, David Brown, and Diana Tani in Los Angeles, and Charles D. Riely in New York, who are members of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit. The investigation was supervised by Unit Chief Daniel M. Hawke and Deputy Chief Sanjay Wadhwa. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Comissão de Valores Mobliliários (Securities and Exchange Commission of Brazil), Options Regulatory Surveillance Authority, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SEC CHARGES FORMER EXECUITVE WITH NOT DISCLOSING ALL INCOME

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C., Sep. 17, 2012The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former director at Port Washington, N.Y.-based consumer electronics retailer Systemax Inc. for fraudulently reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed compensation over a five-year period.

The SEC alleges that Gilbert Fiorentino, who in addition to serving on the board was the former chief executive of Systemax’s Technology Products Group in Miami, obtained more than $400,000 in extra compensation directly from firms that conducted business with Systemax. Fiorentino also stole several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of company merchandise that was used to market Systemax’s products. Because Fiorentino was one of Systemax’s highest-paid executives, U.S. securities laws required the company to disclose all compensation, perks, and other personal benefits he received each year. Fiorentino failed to disclose his extra compensation and perks to Systemax or its auditors, so that the amounts reported to shareholders were understated.

Systemax placed Fiorentino on administrative leave in April 2011. After the SEC began investigating the conduct, Fiorentino agreed to resign from all of his positions with Systemax, surrender stock and stock options valued at approximately $9.1 million, and repay his 2010 annual bonus of $480,000.

Fiorentino has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying an additional $65,000 penalty and consenting to a permanent bar from serving as an officer or director of any publicly held company.

"Fiorentino brazenly stole from Systemax and betrayed the trust of its shareholders," said Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. "His actions demonstrate that he is unfit to serve as an officer or director of a public company."

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Miami, the misconduct occurred from January 2006 to December 2010. Systemax sells personal computers and other consumer electronics through its websites, retail stores, and direct mail catalogs. Fiorentino arranged the extra compensation as he dealt directly with external service providers, manufacturer representatives, and others that conducted business with Systemax. For example, he demanded and received $5,000 to $10,000 monthly from an entity that supplied materials to Systemax’s subsidiaries for use in retail and mail order operations.

The SEC further alleges that through his executive position at Systemax, Fiorentino had access to company merchandise used to market Systemax products in mail order catalogs and online. Fiorentino routinely misappropriated some of this merchandise and failed to disclose it to Systemax and its auditors.

According to the SEC’s complaint, as a result of Fiorentino’s actions, the information that Systemax filed with the SEC and provided to investors materially understated his compensation and omitted his personal financial interest in certain related-party transactions. Fiorentino reviewed and signed each Systemax Form 10-K from fiscal year 2006 to 2010 while knowing that it failed to make the required disclosures. Fiorentino also routinely signed management representation letters to Systemax’s independent auditors stating that he did not know of any fraud or suspected fraud involving Systemax’s management.

Fiorentino agreed to settle the SEC’s charges without admitting or denying the allegations. The settlement is subject to court approval. In addition to the financial penalty and officer-and-director bar, Fiorentino agreed to a permanent injunction from further violations of the antifraud and other provisions of the federal securities laws.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Staff Accountant Kathleen Strandell and supervised by Assistant Regional Director Thierry Olivier Desmet of the Miami Regional Office.

Monday, September 17, 2012

ASSETS FROZEN IN ALLEGED COMMODITY POOL FOREX SCHEME

FROM: U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

CFTC Charges Florida Resident William Jeffery Chandler with Forex Fraud and Misappropriation

Federal court enters emergency order freezing defendant’s assets and protecting books and records

Washington, DC
– The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that on September 11, 2012, Judge James D. Whittemore of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida entered an emergency order freezing the assets of defendant William Jeffery Chandler of Ft Myers, Fla. The court’s order also prohibits Chandler from destroying or altering books and records. The judge set a hearing on the CFTC’s motion for a preliminary injunction for September 26, 2012.

The court’s order arises out of a civil enforcement action filed by the CFTC on September 10, 2012, charging Chandler with foreign currency (forex) fraud and misappropriation. Chandler has never been registered with the CFTC in any capacity, according to the complaint.

The CFTC complaint alleges that, since at least July 2010, and continuing to the present, Chandler has solicited at least six individuals to contribute at least $773,100 to a pooled account to trade off-exchange forex contracts in Chandler’s account at Dukascopy Bank SA, a Switzerland-domiciled bank. To entice prospective pool participants to invest, Chandler allegedly guaranteed a two percent to 12.5 percent monthly return on participants’ principal.

However, according to the complaint, Chandler’s Dukascopy Bank account was closed on or about July 15, 2011, due to changes in U.S. regulations. The Dukascopy Bank account was transferred to Alpari US LLC, a U.S.-based registered Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer, on August 8, 2011, according to the complaint. At that time, the pooled account allegedly had a balance of only $292.49, far less than the amount contributed by pool participants.

Chandler allegedly continues to solicit and receive funds from pool participants to trade in his Dukascopy Bank account, even after it had closed, and continues to represent to pool participants that their funds remain in the pool in his Dukascopy Bank account. Although Chandler has received requests from many pool participants to return their funds, he refuses to refund participant’s principal, instead asserting a litany of fabricated excuses, according to the complaint. Chandler has misappropriated the vast majority of the pool’s funds for his personal use, the complaint charges.

Furthermore, pool participants received statements from a purported accounting firm named A.R. Watkins; however, upon information and belief, A.R. Watkins is a fictitious entity controlled by Chandler, according to the complaint.

In its continuing litigation, the CFTC seeks civil monetary penalties, restitution, rescission, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, trading and registration bans, and preliminary and permanent injunctions against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, as charged.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff responsible for this case are Jo Mettenburg, Jeff Le Riche, Stephen Turley, Rick Glaser, and Richard Wagner.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MAN ACCOUSED OF USING CUSTOMER FUNDS TO PAY MORTGAGE

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2012The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a broker and his company based in Danbury, Conn., with stealing at least $600,000 from customers who he persuaded to withdraw money from their brokerage accounts he managed at other firms and instead invest with him directly.

The SEC alleges that Stephen B. Blankenship lured about a dozen customers – including some retirees and others he met at church – into his scheme by assuring them they could obtain a greater rate of return on their money by transferring it to his firm, Deer Hill Financial Group. Blankenship claimed he was investing their money in established securities such as publicly-traded mutual funds. But in reality he made no investments and merely transferred customer money to his own bank account, and he misused it to pay his mortgage, travel, and grocery bills among other personal expenses. Blankenship also paid some business expenses and made Ponzi-like payments to other customers who requested a return of all or part of their investment.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut today announced criminal charges against Blankenship.

"Blankenship took advantage of fellow churchgoers and senior citizens who relied on their savings for retirement and placed their trust in him," said David P. Bergers, Director of the SEC's Boston Regional Office. "He betrayed that trust by using their money to make personal credit card payments and home improvements."

According to the SEC's complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, most of the investors deceived by Blankenship became his brokerage customers at Santa Monica-based Syndicated Capital and later at Melville, N.Y.-based Vanderbilt Securities. Some had been his customers for as long as two decades. Beginning in at least 2002, Blankenship took advantage of those longstanding relationships and began convincing customers to withdraw money from their brokerage accounts at those firms with promises that he could achieve a greater rate of return for them directly by investing their money through Deer Hill.

The SEC alleges that in order to conceal his scheme, Blankenship often created fake account statements that falsely represented that he had invested their money in a variety of investments. The purported account statements were printed on Deer Hill letterhead and provided to customers. In all instances, the investments described on the account statements did not exist.

The SEC's complaint alleges that Deer Hill and Blankenship violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and acted as unregistered brokers. The complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, monetary penalties, and the entry of a permanent injunction against Deer Hill and Blankenship, who lives in New Fairfield, Conn.

Based on the same misconduct, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut charged Blankenship with criminal violations. The Connecticut Department of Banking's Securities Division has obtained, by consent, a revocation of Blankenship's registration and has barred Blankenship and Deer Hill from operating in Connecticut. The SEC thanks the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Banking's Securities Division, and the police department in Danbury, Conn., for their assistance in this matter.

The SEC's investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Kevin B. Currid, Robert B. Barry, and Michele Perillo in the Boston Regional Office with assistance from Mark Gera and Andrew Caverly of the broker-dealer examination program. Mr. Currid will lead the SEC's litigation.

Friday, September 14, 2012

BROKER AND COMPANY CHARGED WITH STEAING INVESTOR FUNDS

FROM: SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Charges Connecticut-Based Broker for Stealing Investor Funds

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it has charged Stephen B. Blankenship, a resident of New Fairfield, Connecticut, and Deer Hill Financial Group, LLC, a Connecticut limited liability company under Blankenship’s control, with a scheme to defraud investors. The Commission’s Complaint alleges that, from at least 2002 through November 2011, Blankenship misappropriated at least $600,000 from at least 12 brokerage customers by falsely representing that he would invest their funds in securities through defendant Deer Hill.

The SEC alleges that until November 2011, Blankenship was a registered representative of Vanderbilt Securities, LLC, a registered broker-dealer based in Melville, New York. According to the complaint, Blankenship lied to his brokerage customers and in many instances, lured customers to withdraw money from their brokerage accounts with promises that they could obtain a greater rate of return by investing through Deer Hill. The complaint alleges that Blankenship assured his customers that he would invest their money in established securities such as publicly traded mutual funds. When customers requested account statements, Blankenship provided the customers with fictitious statements from Deer Hill that falsely represented that Blankenship had invested their money in a variety of investments.

According to the SEC’s Complaint, Blankenship never invested the customers’ money. Instead, Blankenship used the customers’ money for personal expenses, business expenses and to make Ponzi-like payments to other customers who requested a return of all or part of their investment.

The action was filed in federal court in Connecticut on September 13, 2012, and the Complaint alleges that the defendants violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933. The Commission also alleges that the defendants violated Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act. In its action, the Commission seeks the entry of a permanent injunction against the defendants, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains by the defendants plus pre-judgment interest thereon, and the imposition of civil monetary penalties.

Based on the same misconduct, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut charged Blankenship with criminal violations. The Connecticut Department of Banking‘s Securities Division has obtained, by consent, a revocation of Blankenship’s registration and has barred Blankenship and Deer Hill from operating in Connecticut. The SEC thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Banking’s Securities Division, and the police department in Danbury, Conn., for their assistance in this matter. The Commission’s investigation is continuing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

COMPANY AND TOP EXECUTIVES CHARGED BY SEC WITH RUNNING A BOILER ROOM OPERATION

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
SEC Charges Massachusetts-Based Corporation and Senior Officers in $26 Million Fraudulent Securities Offering

On September 10, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an enforcement action in federal court in Boston charging Massachusetts-based Bio Defense Corporation and others for their roles in a fraudulent offering of unregistered Bio Defense securities. The defendants are charged with defrauding investors through various misrepresentations and schemes while raising at least $26 million in investor funds.

In addition to Bio Defense, the Commission’s complaint charges Michael Lu of Lexington, Massachusetts, the founder and former CEO and Chairman of Bio Defense; Jonathan Morrone of Newton, Massachusetts, a former Senior Executive Vice President of Bio Defense; Z. Paul Jurberg of Brookline, Massachusetts, a senior officer of Bio Defense and most recently a Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing; Anthony Orth of Tustin, California, a former Vice President of Marketing for Bio Defense; and Brett Hamburger of Delray Beach, Florida, a consultant to Bio Defense who raised investor funds for the company. The Commission also named May’s International Corporation, an entity controlled by Michael Lu, as a relief defendant based on its receipt of investor funds.

According to the Commission’s complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Bio Defense, which purports to develop, manufacture and sell a machine for combating the use of dangerous biological agents through the mails, and its principals began engaging in unregistered offers and sales of securities to investors in the United States by at least 2004 and, after attracting the attention of various domestic state regulators in 2008, began utilizing "boiler room" firms to assist in selling shares of Bio Defense securities to overseas investors primarily in the United Kingdom.

The Commission’s complaint alleges that, while making unregistered offers and sales of securities to US investors from at least 2004 through August 2008, Lu, Morrone, and Jurberg made false claims to investors that Bio Defense was not paying financial compensation to its employees and officers. The complaint further alleges that these individuals gave potential investors the false impression that Bio Defense preserved its cash assets by having employees who worked for no, or very little, pay, suggesting that these employees were working solely or primarily for "sweat equity" shares, which might later become valuable when the company became profitable or underwent an initial public offering of stock. In fact, Bio Defense’s largest expense during those years was the money it paid to Lu, Morrone, and Jurberg and other employees from funds raised from investors; in 2004 alone, Bio Defense paid approximately $1 million in compensation to its officers and employees.

The Commission’s complaint further alleges that, as Bio Defense began raising money overseas in August 2008, the defendants transformed the company into a deceptive and fraudulent device designed to enrich its principals while also paying as much as 75% of investor proceeds as commissions to its overseas boiler room fundraisers. From August 2008 through approximately July 2010, Bio Defense’s most substantial source of cash generation and most significant expense was not manufacturing and selling machines, but instead was its securities promotion and sales activities. Bio Defense and its representatives did not tell investors that 75% of funds received from them would be going straight to boiler room operators.

The Commission alleges that all defendants violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act") and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; that Bio Defense, Lu, Morrone, Jurberg and Orth violated Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act; and that Lu, Morrone, Jurberg, Hamburger and Orth violated Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act. The Commission also alleges, in the alternative, that Lu and Morrone are liable under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act as control persons of Bio Defense for Bio Defense’s violations of Securities Act Section 17(a) and Exchange Act Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC seeks in its action permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus prejudgment interest, civil penalties, and, against Lu, Morrone, Jurberg and Orth, officer and director bars.

The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the Massachusetts Securities Division, the UK Financial Services Authority and the City of London Police in this matter.

CFTC SEEKING TO REVOKE REGISTRATIONS FOR COMPANIES AND OWNER

FROM: COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

CFTC Seeks to Revoke Registrations of Linda Faye Harris and her companies, CDH Forex Investments, LLC and CDH Global Holdings, LLC

Washington, DC
– The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today filed a notice of intent to revoke the registrations of Linda Faye Harris, CDH Forex Investments, LLC (CDH Forex) and CDH Global Holdings, LLC (CDH Global), all of Flower Mound, Texas. CDH Forex is a registered Commodity Pool Operator and Commodity Trading Advisor; CDH Global is a registered Commodity Trading Advisor; and Harris is registered as an Associated Person and is the sole principal of CDH Forex. Harris was an Associated Person and principal of CDH Global.

The notice alleges that Harris, CDH Forex, and CDH Global are subject to statutory disqualification from CFTC registration based on an order of default judgment and permanent injunction entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on June 12, 2012 (see CFTC News Release
6286-12 June 21, 2012). The order prohibits defendants from committing further fraud, among other violations. At the hearing held on June 12, 2012, Harris appeared and conceded all allegations in the complaint of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, but contested only the amount of restitution and civil monetary penalty. The court found none of Harris’ arguments credible and entered the order as submitted by the CFTC. The order contains findings of fact and conclusions of law, which find, in relevant part, 1) that Harris fraudulently solicited at least $2.2 million from customers, out of which total trading losses and misappropriated funds equaled at least $1,361,897, and 2) made material false statements to pool participants. The order also finds that Harris provided false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to the National Futures Association (NFA), including falsified trading account statements and falsified bank statements, to hide the ongoing fraud from NFA.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this action are Nathan B. Ploener, Manal M. Sultan, Lenel Hickson, Jr., Stephen J. Obie, and Vincent A. McGonagle.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SEC CHARGES RADIO PERSONALITY WITH STAGING MISLEADING INVESTMENT SEMINARS

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
SEC Charges Radio Personality for Conducting Misleading Investment Seminars
Washington, D.C., Sept. 5, 2012
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a nationally syndicated radio personality and financial advice author for spreading misleading information about his "Buckets of Money" strategy at a series of investment seminars that he and his company hosted for potential clients.

The SEC’s Division of Enforcement alleges that investment adviser Ray Lucia, Sr. claimed that the wealth management strategy he promoted at the seminars had been empirically "backtested" over actual bear market periods. Backtesting is the process of evaluating a strategy, theory, or model by applying it to historical data and calculating how it would have performed had it actually been used in a prior time period.

Lucia, who lives in the San Diego area, and his company formerly named Raymond J. Lucia Companies Inc. (RJL) allegedly presented a lengthy slideshow at the seminars indicating that extensive backtesting proved that the Buckets of Money strategy would provide inflation-adjusted income to retirees while protecting and even increasing their retirement savings. However despite the claims they made publicly, Lucia and RJL performed scant, if any, actual backtesting of the Buckets of Money strategy.

"Lucia and RJL left their seminar attendees with a false sense of comfort about the Buckets of Money strategy," said Michele Wein Layne, Regional Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. "The so-called backtests weren’t really backtests, and the strategy wasn’t proven as they claimed."

According to the SEC’s order instituting administrative proceedings against Lucia and RJL, they held the seminars highlighting their Buckets of Money strategy in an effort to obtain advisory clients who would be charged fees in return for their advisory services. They promoted the seminars on Lucia’s radio show and on Lucia’s personal and company websites.

According to the SEC’s order, a backtest must utilize actual data from the time period in order to get an accurate result. Lucia and RJL have admitted during the SEC’s investigation that the only testing they actually performed were some calculations that Lucia made in the late 1990s – copies of which no longer exist – and two two-page spreadsheets.

According to the SEC’s order, the two cursory spreadsheets that Lucia claims were backtests used a hypothetical 3 percent inflation rate even though this was lower than actual historical rates. Lucia admittedly knew that using the lower hypothetical inflation rate would make the results look more favorable for the Buckets of Money strategy. These alleged backtests also failed to account for the negative effect that the deduction of advisory fees would have had on the backtesting of their investment strategy, and their "backtesting" did not even allocate in the manner called for by Lucia’s Buckets of Money strategy. The slideshow presentation that Lucia and RJL used during the seminars failed to disclose the flaws in their alleged backtests and was materially misleading.

According to the SEC’s order, Lucia and RJL also failed to maintain adequate records of the backtesting as they were required to do under an SEC rule. The pair of two-page spreadsheets was the only documentation of their backtesting calculations, and those spreadsheets failed to duplicate their advertised investment strategy.

The SEC’s order finds that RJL violated Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-1(a)(5) thereunder. The order finds that Lucia willfully aided and abetted and caused RJL’s violations of Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-1(a)(5) thereunder. The SEC’s Division of Enforcement is seeking financial penalties and other remedial action in the proceedings.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Peter Del Greco of the Los Angeles Regional Office. John Bulgozdy will lead the litigation. Bryan Bennett and John Kreimeyer conducted the SEC examination that prompted the investigation.

ACCOUNTANT CHARGED WITH BEING A TIPSTER OF NON-PUBLIC INFORMATION

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

On August 28, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil injunctive action in the Northern District of Georgia against R. Jeffrey Rooks ("Rooks"), a Griffin, Georgia based CPA. The Commission alleges that Thomas D. Melvin ("Melvin"), a Griffin, Georgia based CPA and partner of Rooks, disclosed material non-public information about the pending tender offer for Chattem, Inc. ("Chattem") securities to Rooks. The Commission also alleges that Rooks tipped one other individual. The Commission further alleges that Rooks traded in the securities of Chattem based on that material non-public information and caused the other individual to also trade.

According to the Commission’s complaint, on December 21, 2009, Sanofi-Aventis ("Sanofi"), a French pharmaceutical company, announced its intent to make a tender offer for Chattem, a Tennessee-based distributor of over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, at the price of $93.50 per share ("Announcement"). Shares of Chattem closed 32.60% higher on the day of the Announcement than the prior trading day’s close of $69.98 and volume increased more than 3,000% to 10.3 million shares.

The Commission alleges that in early December 2009, several weeks before the Announcement, an independent board member of Chattem who owned Chattem options that would automatically exercise in the event of an ownership change at Chattem, initiated a series of confidential conversations and meetings with his longtime accountant, Melvin, to discuss potential methods of ameliorating the effect of an acquisition of Chattem on his tax liability. The Chattem board member told Melvin sufficient facts such that, given Melvin’s knowledge of the board member’s affairs, Melvin would have clearly known that the board member was discussing Chattem. Melvin and the Chattem board member also discussed the price impact of the tender offer on the board member’s options.

The Commission further alleges that Melvin misappropriated material non-public information regarding the impending tender offer for Chattem securities. Within days of his first meeting with the board member, Melvin disclosed material non-public information about the impending tender offer to Rooks. Rooks traded in Chattem securities based on the material non-public information disclosed by Melvin, and Rooks caused another individual to trade based on that information.

Rooks has agreed to settle the Commission claims against him by consenting to the entry of a final judgment providing permanent injunctive relief under Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder and by agreeing to pay disgorgement of $18,482.14, prejudgment interest of $1,432.68, and a penalty of $4,620.54. The terms of Rooks’ settlement reflect credit given to him for his cooperation and substantial assistance to the investigation. Rooks neither admits nor denies the Commission’s allegations, and his settlement is subject to court approval.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

SEC CHARGES CHINA BASED COMPANY WITH "COOKING THE BOOKS" TO INCREASE REVENUES

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE DEPARTMENT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a China-based company and its chief executive with fraud for recording fake sales of a weight loss product to inflate revenues in the company’s financial statements by millions of dollars.

The SEC alleges that China Sky One Medical Inc. (CSKI) falsely stated in 2007 annual and quarterly reports that it had entered into a strategic distribution agreement with a Malaysian company that would become the "exclusive" distributor of CSKI’s "slim patch" in Malaysia and generate $1 million per month in sales. However, the company never actually entered into any such agreement. CSKI instead created approximately $19.8 million in phony export sales to Malaysia that were recorded as revenue in its financial results for 2007 and 2008. CEO Yan-qing Liu certified the overstated financial results, which appear in CSKI’s financial statements through 2010 and continue to impact the company’s retained earnings on its balance sheet.

"Accurate and reliable financial reporting is the bedrock of our capital markets, and CSKI blatantly defrauded investors by fabricating sales and overstating its financial results," said John M. McCoy III, Associate Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, CSKI is based Harbin, China. In addition to weight loss patches, the company produces and sells sprays, ointments, and other Chinese traditional pain relief and health and beauty products. CSKI became a public company trading on the U.S. markets through a reverse merger in May 2006.

The SEC alleges that after CSKI devised the purported strategic distribution agreement with Takasima Industries – which is a Malaysian fitness equipment manufacturer and retailer – CSKI went on to falsely report export sales to Malaysia of more than $12.2 million for 2007, which constituted 25 percent of its total revenues. CSKI then falsely recorded $7.5 million (8.2 percent of total revenues) in such sales for 2008. Virtually all of CSKI’s reported sales to Malaysia via Takasima were bogus. Takasima only purchased $167,542 in slim patches from CSKI in 2007, and none in 2008. And it never entered into any distribution agreement with CSKI and never undertook – much less satisfied – any minimum purchase commitment.

According to the SEC’s complaint, CSKI also falsely claimed in its public filings that its top two customers for 2007 were sales agents for Takasima. CSKI identified those customers as Ningbo Yuehua International Trading Company and Guangzhou Xinghe International Trading Company, which collectively accounted for the phony 25 percent of CSKI’s total revenues for 2007. CSKI claimed that all of these purported sales to Ningbo Yuehua and Guangzhou Xinghe went through Takasima, while in fact Takasima never had any relationship with these two entities.

CSKI and Liu are charged with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and various Exchange Act provisions including corporate reporting, recordkeeping, internal controls, and false statements to auditors.

The SEC’s complaint seeks financial penalties against CSKI and Liu as well as disgorgement of ill-gotten gains by Liu, who personally benefited from the overstated financial statements through the company’s 2008 private placement of securities. The SEC also seeks to have Liu reimburse CSKI for certain incentive-based compensation he received during the period affected by the fraud pursuant to Section 304 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and to have Liu barred from acting as an officer or director of a public company. The SEC also seeks to have CSKI and Liu permanently enjoined from future violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws

In addition to the court action, the SEC instituted administrative proceedings to determine whether to revoke or suspend registration of CSKI’s securities due to the company’s failure to file its annual report for 2011 or any quarterly reports for 2012.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Junling Ma, Rhoda Chang, and Marshall S. Sprung of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. The SEC’s Cross Border Working Group – which focuses on U.S. companies with substantial foreign operations – and the SEC’s Office of International Affairs assisted in the investigation. The SEC’s litigation will be led by David Van Havermaat.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ISIDER TRADING ON KNOWLEDGE OF INTENDED TENDOR OFFER

FROM: SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

SEC Charges Georgia Resident with Insider Trading

On August 28, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil injunctive action in the Northern District of Georgia against Casey D. Jackson ("Jackson"). The Commission alleges that Thomas D. Melvin ("Melvin"), a Griffin, Georgia based CPA and friend of C. Roan Berry ("Berry"), disclosed material non-public information about the pending tender offer for Chattem, Inc. ("Chattem") securities to Berry. The Commission also alleges that Berry tipped his next door neighbor, Ashley J. Coots. The Commission further alleges that Coots tipped Casey D. Jackson ("Jackson"), and that Jackson traded in the securities of Chattem based on that material non-public information.

According to the Commission’s complaint, on December 21, 2009, Sanofi-Aventis ("Sanofi"), a French pharmaceutical company, announced its intent to make a tender offer for Chattem, a Tennessee-based distributor of over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, at the price of $93.50 per share ("Announcement"). Shares of Chattem closed 32.60% higher on the day of the Announcement than the prior trading day’s close of $69.98 and volume increased more than 3,000% to 10.3 million shares.

The Commission alleges that in early December 2009, several weeks before the Announcement, an independent board member of Chattem who owned Chattem options that would automatically exercise in the event of an ownership change at Chattem, initiated a series of confidential conversations and meetings with his longtime accountant, Melvin, to discuss potential methods of ameliorating the effect of an acquisition of Chattem on his tax liability. The Chattem board member told Melvin sufficient facts such that, given Melvin’s knowledge of the board member’s affairs, Melvin would have clearly known that the board member was discussing Chattem. Melvin and the Chattem board member also discussed the price impact of the tender offer on the board member’s options.

The Commission further alleges that Melvin misappropriated material non-public information regarding the impending tender offer for Chattem securities. Within days of his first meeting with the board member, Melvin disclosed material non-public information about the impending tender offer to Berry. Berry tipped Coots, who tipped Jackson. Jackson traded in Chattem securities based on the material non-public information Coots disclosed to him.

Jackson has agreed to settle the Commission claims against him by consenting to the entry of a final judgment providing permanent injunctive relief under Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 and by paying disgorgement of $2,369.78, prejudgment interest of $221.93, and a penalty of $1,184.89. Jackson neither admits nor denies the Commission’s allegations, and his settlement is subject to court approval.

Friday, September 7, 2012

MAN CHARGED WITH GIVING INSIDER INFORMATION TO HEDGE FUND MANAGER

FROM: U.S. SECURITITES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C., September 4, 2012 - The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a California man with illegally tipping a hedge fund manager with inside information about Nvidia Corporation’s quarterly earnings that he learned from his friend who worked at the company.

The SEC alleges that Hyung Lim of Los Altos, Calif., received $15,000 and stock tips about a pending corporate acquisition for regularly providing a fellow poker player, Danny Kuo, with nonpublic details ahead of Nvidia’s quarterly earnings announcements. Kuo, a hedge fund manager, illegally traded on the information and passed it on to multi-billion dollar hedge fund advisory firms Diamondback Capital Management LLC and Level Global Investors LP. The SEC charged Kuo and the firms among others earlier this year as part of its widespread investigation into the trading activities of hedge funds.

"These hedge fund traders were eager to find an edge in an otherwise competitive marketplace, and Lim provided them that edge for a price," said Sanjay Wadhwa, Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office and Deputy Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit. "Now one more participant in this sprawling scheme is being held accountable for his illegal transgressions."

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Lim.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Kuo and the hedge funds made nearly $16 million trading in Nvidia securities based on Lim’s inside information. Lim lives in Los Altos, Calif., and is employed in the accounting department of a semiconductor firm. Lim and Kuo met at poker parties organized by a mutual friend.

The SEC alleges that during at least 2009 and 2010, Lim regularly obtained detailed information about the contents of Nvidia’s upcoming quarterly earnings announcements from his friend who worked at Nvidia. Lim’s source provided him with not just one but a series of tips, which grew more accurate and reliable as Nvidia finalized its financial results for a given quarter and prepared to report them publicly. Lim typically learned the nonpublic information in phone conversations with his Nvidia friend, and within one minute of ending a conversation Lim would immediately call Kuo to relay the latest inside information. Lim provided Kuo such nonpublic details as Nvidia’s calculation of its revenues, gross profit margins, and other important financial metrics before the company made those figures public in its quarterly earnings announcements.

The SEC alleges that Lim was compensated by Kuo for the confidential Nvidia information that he provided. Kuo wired $5,000 to a Las Vegas casino to pay a debt for Lim, and later Kuo made two $5,000 cash payments to Lim. Kuo also provided Lim with nonpublic information about a pending corporate acquisition, which Lim used to make more than $11,000 in trading profits.

The SEC’s complaint charges Lim with violating the anti-fraud provisions of U.S. securities laws and seeks a final judgment ordering him to disgorge his ill-gotten gains and those of his tippees plus interest, ordering him to pay a financial penalty, permanently enjoining him from future violations, and barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Stephen Larson, Daniel Marcus and Joseph Sansone, who are members of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit in New York, along with Matthew Watkins, Neil Hendelman, Diego Brucculeri and James D’Avino of the New York Regional Office. The SEC thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in this matter.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

MUNICIPAL SECURITIES PROFESSIONALS AND CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

FROM: U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C., Aug. 31, 2012The Securities and Exchange Commission today issued an alert to strengthen compliance with a Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board rule that limits political contributions by municipal securities professionals to campaigns of public officials of issuers with whom they are doing or seek to do business.

The Risk Alert issued by the agency’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations notes that SEC examiners have observed practices that raise concerns about firms’ compliance with their obligations under MSRB Rule G-37, which clamped down on so-called "pay to play" practices. These concerns include:
Compliance with the rule’s ban on doing business with a municipal issuer within two years of a political contribution to officials of the issuer by any of the firm’s municipal finance professionals
Possible recordkeeping violations
Failure to file accurate and complete required forms with regulators regarding political contributions
Inadequate supervision

The Risk Alert identifies practices that examiners have seen some firms use to comply with applicable federal, state, and local rules on contributions. These include training programs for municipal finance professionals, self-certification of compliance with restrictions on political contributions, surveillance for unreported political contributions, and preclearance or restrictions on political contributions when permitted by state or local law. The Risk Alert stresses that the practices are described only to inform firms about approaches being used to strengthen compliance efforts; these practices may not be applicable to a particular firm, and other practices may be appropriate to consider instead.

"This Risk Alert is intended to help firms to strengthen their compliance and risk management efforts with regard to political contributions," said OCIE Director Carlo di Florio. "We hope that by describing practices that our examiners have observed, we will promote compliance by helping firms to consider how each of them can most effectively meet their obligations under MSRB rules."

The alert is the fourth this year and the sixth in a continuing series of Risk Alerts that the SEC’s examination staff began issuing in 2011. It is intended to assist senior management, risk management, and legal and compliance staff as they review compliance with Rule G-37 by brokers, dealers, and municipal securities dealers.

The following staff contributed substantially to preparing this Risk Alert: Robert Miller, Suzanne McGovern, Julius Leiman-Carbia, and George Kramer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

MAN ORDERED TO PAY OVER $17 MILLION FOR RUNING FOREX POOLED INVESTMENT FRAUD

FROM U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION

Federal Court in Texas Orders Christopher B. Cornett to Pay over $17 Million in Sanctions in Foreign Currency Fraud Action

Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced that it obtained a federal court order of default judgment and permanent injunction requiring defendant Christopher B. Cornett of Buda, Texas, to pay $10.16 million in restitution and a $6.78 million civil monetary penalty in connection with a foreign currency (forex) pooled investment fraud. The order, entered on August 24, 2012, by Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, also imposes permanent trading and registration bans against Cornett and permanently prohibits him from further violations of federal commodities law, as charged.

The court’s order stems from a CFTC complaint filed on February 2, 2012, charging Cornett with solicitation fraud, issuing false account statements, misappropriating pool participants’ funds, and failing to register with the CFTC as a commodity pool operator.

The order finds that, from at least June 2008 through at least October 2011, Cornett solicited prospective pool participants to invest in a pooled forex investment and that he acted as the manager and operator of the pool. The pool was referred to at various times as ITLDU, ICM, International Forex Management, LLC, and/or IFM, LLC, according to the order. In his solicitations, Cornett falsely told prospective pool participants that, while there were weeks when he either lost money or broke even trading forex, he had never experienced a losing month or a losing year trading forex, the order finds.

The order also finds that, from June 18, 2008 through September 2010, Cornett solicited approximately $7.07 million from pool participants, participants redeemed approximately $1.64 million, and Cornett lost approximately $4.17 million of the pool’s funds trading forex. During this period, Cornett had only one profitable month trading forex and earned little, if any, fees for acting as the pool’s operator, the order finds. Thus, during this period, Cornett misappropriated approximately $1.26 million of the pool’s funds and for most, if not all of the period, provided participants with false weekly reports/account statements, the order finds.

The court’s order further finds that, from October 2010 through October 2011, Cornett solicited an additional approximately $6.95 million from pool participants. Cornett transferred approximately $3.37 million to forex trading accounts at six foreign brokers and lost approximately $2.3 million at five of the brokers, and likely lost an additional $905,000 at the sixth broker trading forex with pool funds, the order finds. As of October 2011, Cornett had misappropriated approximately $1 million of the pool’s funds and less than $520,000 remained in bank accounts in the names of the pool, according to the order.

The CFTC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The CFTC also appreciates the assistance of the U.K. Financial Services Authority, the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, Germany’s BaFin, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, the Eastern Caribbean Securities Regulatory Commission, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ International Financial Services Authority.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this action are Patrick M. Pericak, Daniel Jordan, Jessica Harris, Rick Glaser, and Richard B. Wagner.
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