Articles Posted in Private Equity FIrms

Men Accused of $6.8M Private Equity Fund Fraud Allegedly Bilked Friends and Family
The Securities and Exchange Commission has settled charges with two men and their unregistered investment advisory firm for allegedly bilking investors in a private equity fund. Under the agreement, William B. Fretz, John P. Freeman, and their Covenant Capital Management Partners, L.P. will owe the regulator about $6.8 million. Any money collected will go to investors that were defrauded.

According to the SEC order instituting administrative proceedings over the alleged private equity fund fraud, the two men, their firm, and Covenant Partners, L.P., which is the fund they managed, sold partnership interests in the fund to friends and family. However, instead of investing the money, they used the cash for themselves and their other business.

Fritz and Freeman are accused of taking more than $1 million and placing it with their brokerage firm, Keystone Equities Group L.P., which was failing. They also purportedly paid close to $600,000 in performance fees they didn’t make and used assets from the fund to pay back personal obligations.

Freeman, Fretz, and CCMP consented to settle charges accusing them of willfully violating federal securities laws and SEC anti-fraud laws. However, they are not denying or admitting to the SEC fraud charges.

Investment Adviser R.T. Jones Capital Settles SEC Charges Related to Cybersecurity
R.T. Jones Capital Equities Management has settled SEC charges accusing it of not putting into placed required cyber security procedures and policies prior to a breach that compromised the personal identifiable (PII) information of thousands of its clients. Without denying or admitting to the findings, the investment adviser agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty and consented to cease and desist from future violations of the Securities Act of 1933’s Rule 30(a) of Regulation S-P.

According to an SEC probe, R.T. Jones violated federal securities laws’ “safeguard rule.” The rule mandates that registered investment advisers put into place written procedures and policies that are designed in a manner reasonable enough that they protect customers’ information and records from security threats. The regulator said that for four years R.T. Jones did not adopt any such policies.
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Blackstone Group (BX) LP, TPG, and KKR (KKR) will collectively pay $325 million to resolve a securities case accusing several private equity firms of working together to keep the prices they paid to acquire companies down during the takeover frenzy right before the financial crisis. The firms settled without denying or admitting to wrongdoing just three months before the lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial.

Their settlements follow those reached with former case defendants Bain Capital LLC and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GC) (collectively, the two paid $121 million) and Silver Lake, which paid $29.5 million. Carlyle Group (CG) LP is the only defendant left. It maintains that the investors’ claims have no merit.

The plaintiffs, who filed their securities case in 2007, sold their shares in numerous companies to private-equity firms during the boom-era buyouts. They contend that firms collude together to acquire companies via club deals and agreed not to compete with each other to lower the shareholders were paid. The investors claim that, as a result, they lost billions of dollars.

The trustee for the DBSI Inc. bankruptcy is suing 96 independent broker-dealers for securities fraud related to suspect tenant-in-common exchanges that were sold to investors. James Zazzali is seeking about $49 million in commissions earned.

In his securities fraud complaint, Zazzali, who is a retired Supreme Court of New Jersey justice, claims that DBSI’s TIC deals were part of a $600 million Ponzi scam. The lawsuit contends that the following companies made the most commissions from selling DBSI:

• Berthel Fisher & Company Financial Services Inc.
• QA3 Financial Corp.
• DeWaay Financial Network LLC,
• The Private Consulting Group • Questar Capital Corp.

22 of the broker-dealers named as defendants are no longer in business. Zazzali contends that the commissions were fraudulent transfers by DBSI and that due to the Ponzi nature of the enterprise, old investors benefited from funds put in by new investors. The trustee believes that the broker-dealers should return investor payments and commissions, which should be distributed to DBSI creditors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has not filed securities fraud charges against DBSI. Other private placement issuers, such as Provident Royalties and Medical Capital Holdings, were charged by the regulator last year. Provident Royalties’ receiver sued over 40 broker-dealers this year in an effort to obtain claw-back in principal and commissions from firms that sold private placements.

TICs are a form of real estate ownership involving two or more parties with fractional interests in a property. DBSI Inc. was one of the biggest distributors and creators of the product until it defaulted on investor payments and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2008. Before then, independent broker-dealers actively sold DBSI TICs. The financial product grew in popularity in 2002 after the Internal Revenue Service issued a ruling that let investors defer capital gains on commercial real estate transaction involving property exchanges.

Related Web Resources:
Sour real estate deals land B-Ds in hot water, Investment News, December 12, 2010
Something in common: Firms that sold TICs from DBSI, Investment News, December 15, 2010
Iowa brokerages included in lawsuit, DesMoines Register, December 14, 2010
Institutional Investors Securities Blog
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The SEC has filed securities fraud charges against the private equity firm, Onyx Capital Advisors LLC, its founder Roy Dixon Jr., and his friend Michael Farr. The agency is accusing the defendants of stealing over $3 million from three area public pension funds.

According to the SEC, Onyx Capital Advisors and Dixon raised $23.8 million from the pension funds for a start-up private equity fund that was to invest in private companies. Dixon and Farr, who controlled three of the companies that the Onyx fund had invested in, then illegally took out money that the pension funds had invested and used the cash to cover their own expenses.

While Onyx Capital and Dixon allegedly took more than $2.06 million under the guise of management fees, Farr allegedly helped divert approximately $1.05 million through the companies under his control. He is also accused of diverting part of the over $15 million that Onyx capital invested in SCM Credit LLC, Second Chance Motors, and SCM Finance LLC to 1097 Sea Jay LLC, which is another company that he controls. Farr then allegedly took money from Sea Jay, gave most of it to Dixon, and kept some for himself.

The SEC is accusing Onyx Capital and Dixon of making misleading and false statements to pension fund clients about the private equity fund and the investments they were making. The agency claims that the private equity firm and its founder violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Rule 10b-5 thereunder, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act, and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The SEC claims that Farr aided and abetted in the other two defendants’ violations of Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act.

Related Web Resources:
SEC charges private equity firm and money manager for defrauding Detroit-area public pension funds, SEC, April 23, 2010
Read the SEC Complaint, SEC (PDF)
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