According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, while working at Aquila Investment Management LLC, ex-portfolio managers Thomas Albright and Kimball Young allegedly defrauded the Tax Free Fund for Utah (TFFU)-a mutual fund that was heavily invested in municipal bonds. Now, the two men have settled the securities fraud charges for over $700,000. However, by agreeing to settle, Young and Albright are not admitting to or denying the allegations.
The SEC claims that without notifying the TFFU’s board of trustees or Aquila management, the two men started making municipal bond issuers pay “credit monitoring fees” on specific private placement and non-rated bond offerings. The fees, which were as high as 1% of each bond’s par value, were charged to supposedly compensate Albright and Young for additional, ongoing work that they say was required because the bonds were unrated. The SEC says that credit monitoring was actually part of the two men’s built-in job responsibilities and that although deal documents made it appears as if the fees (totaling $520,626 from 2003 to April 2009) had to be paid and would go to TFFU, they actually end up in a company that Young controlled and that Albright owned equal shares in.
The SEC says that after management at Aquila found out in 2009 that Young and Albright were charging these unnecessary fees, the financial firm suspended the two men right away and reported them to the agency. The agency says the two men violated their basic responsibilities as investment advisers of mutual funds when they failed to act in the fund’s best interests.
Related Web Resources:
The SEC Order Against Young (PDF)