Connecticut Firm Accused of Conflict of Interest Involving $43M Fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission is filing fraud charges against Atlantic Asset Management LLC (AAM). The regulator says that the Connecticut-based investment advisory firm got clients involved in certain bonds that resulted in an undisclosed financial benefit to a brokerage firm whose parent company is part owner of AAM.
The firm is accused of investing over $43M of investor money in illiquid bonds that were issued by a Native American tribal corporation. The sales provided the brokerage-firm with a private placement fee.
The SEC says that investors should have been notified of the financial gain that resulted and the firm violated its obligation to them when it placed its own financial interests before client’s interests.
In its complaint the SEC says that it was a representative from BFG Socially Responsible Investing Ltd., which partially owns AAM, who suggested that the investment advisory firm buy the illiquid bonds for clients. AAM purportedly knew that the bond sale proceeds would to go toward an annuity that the parent company provided.
The Commission says that after finding out that their money had been placed in the bonds, several AAM clients demanded that the investments be unwound but their requests were unsuccessful.
Ex-Investment Adviser Pleads Guilty to Securities and Annuities Scam
Janet Fooshee has pleaded guilty to 31 charges related to a $1.178M financial scam involving securities and annuities. The 63-year-old former New Jersey investment adviser admitted to fraudulently servicing over 100 financial account statements that increased 14 client accounts by about $818K collectively. She also admitted to stealing about $151K from clients, keeping over $190K in unlawful fees, defrauding another investor of almost $81K, and stealing the identities of about eight corporations. Fooshee said that she illegally took funds from over two dozen retirees and others over a period spanning a decade.
Fooshee also used the names Janet Katz and Janet Gurley. As part of the plea deal she must pay $415K in restitution. A seven-year prison term is recommended for her.
NJ Man Charged in $13M Pump-and-Dump Scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging Samuel DelPresto with violating securities laws and their antifraud provisions. DelPresto and his company are accused of illicitly making $13M in a pump-and-dumps scam. According to the regulator, DelPresto and others were able to gain control of all available stock in a number of microcap companies. Through coordinated trading they were purportedly able to create the illusion of market demand and liquidity for the stocks. Promotional campaigns were said to have been executed to persuade investors to purchase the stock at prices that were inflated. DelPresto would then dump the shares into the market.
As a result, says the SEC, investors paid inflated prices for the stock in four companies that DelPresto and his co-conspirators secretly controlled. When the prices fell, investors were the ones that lost money.
The companies are:
· NXT Nutritionals Holding · BioNetural Group · Mesa Energy Holdings · Clear-Lite Holdings
The Commission wants permanent injunction and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. Meantime, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey has filed a parallel criminal case against DelPresto.
Woman pleads guilty to $1.1 million securities and Annuities fraud scheme, NJ.com, December 14, 2015