SEC Charges Investment Adviser With Allegedly Making Unsuitable Hedge Fund Recommendations to Elderly Clients

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged investment adviser Neal Greenberg with securities fraud and breach of fiduciary duty related to the making of recommendations and marketing of hedge funds to investors. According to the SEC, Greenberg, who was the CEO of Tactical Allocation Services LLP and also the portfolio manager of Agile Group LLC, made unsuitable recommendations to clients, many of whom were elderly and/or retired or close to retirement, when he suggested that they invest in the hedge funds run by his firms.

The SEC contends that the investment adviser issued misstatements when he said that the hedge funds were suitable for older and conservative clients, many of whom were seeking low-risk investments that came with significant capital protection. For example, Greenberg allegedly “falsely stated that the Agile hedge funds” were low risk, highly diversified, and offered liquidity when in fact, the funds, which held approximately $174 million from over 100 clients, were non-diversified in their holdings and used leverage. Greenberg also is accused of claiming that the Agile funds “used leverage” in a manner that did not “significantly increase” their risk profile. Yet, says the SEC, for 2007 and 2008 the risk disclosures in private placement memoranda for the hedge funds from Agile contradicted the “false and misleading” misrepresentations made by Greenberg.

The SEC is also accusing Greenberg of failing to make sure that adequate compliance procedures and policies were put in place for determining whether certain investments were suitable for clients’ specific needs. The commission says Greenberg failed to tell clients that they were going to have to pay management and performance fees on the leveraged part of their investments. Between 2003 and 2006, investors paid about $2 million in these undisclosed fees.

Related Web Resource:
Read the SEC Order Against Greenberg (PDF)

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