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SEC Enforcement Actions

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the United States agency with primary responsibility for enforcing federal securities laws. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the federal securities laws can submit a claim to the SEC under the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program, and may be eligible to receive  monetary rewards and protection against retaliation by employers.

Below are summaries of recent SEC settlements or successful prosecutions. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give  rise to an SEC enforcement action and claim under the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

September 8, 2014

The SEC charged Minneapolis-based hedge fund manager Steven R. Markusen and his investment advisory firm Archer Advisors LLC with bilking investors in two hedge funds out of more than $1 million under the guise of research expenses and fees.  According to the SEC, Markusen routinely caused the funds to reimburse Archer for fake research expenses, and he eventually routed much of that money to his personal checking account and spent it on country club dues, boarding school tuition, and a Lexus among other luxury items.  SEC

September 3, 2014

The SEC charged Los Angeles-based immigration attorney Justin Moongyu Lee along with his wife Rebecca Taewon Lee and law firm partner Thomas Edward Kent with conducting an investment scheme to defraud foreign investors trying to come to the U.S. through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.  According to the SEC, they raised nearly $11.5 million from two dozen investors seeking to participate in the EB-5 program, which provides immigrants an opportunity to apply for U.S. residency by investing in a domestic project to create jobs for U.S. workers.  The Lees and Kent informed investors that they would be EB-5 eligible if they invested in an ethanol production plant they would build and operate in Ulysses, Kansas.  However, investors’ money was misappropriated for other uses and the plant was never built and the promised jobs never created.  SEC

September 2, 2014

The SEC charged Houston-based investment advisory firm Robare Group Ltd. with recommending that clients invest in particular mutual funds without disclosing a key conflict of interest:  the firm was in turn receiving compensation from the broker offering the funds.  Therefore, unbeknownst to investors, Robare Group and its co-owners Mark L. Robare and Jack L. Jones Jr. had an incentive to recommend these funds to clients over other investment opportunities and generate additional revenue for the firm.  SEC

August 29, 2014

The SEC announced a whistleblower award of more than $300,000 to a company employee who performed audit and compliance functions and reported wrongdoing to the SEC after the company failed to take action when the employee reported it internally.  It is the first award for a whistleblower with an audit or compliance function at a company.  This particular whistleblower award recipient reported concerns of wrongdoing to appropriate personnel within the company, including a supervisor.  But when the company took no action on the information within 120 days, the whistleblower reported the same information to the SEC.  SEC

August 28, 2014

Lynn R. Blodgett and Kevin R. Kyser, the former CEO and CFO of Dallas-based information technology company, Affiliated Computer Services (now owned by Xerox Corporation), agreed to pay roughly $675,000 to settle charges that they mischaracterized resale transactions to inflate the company’s reported revenue. SEC

August 26, 2014

The SEC charged Michael Anthony Dupre Lucarelli, a director of market intelligence at a Manhattan-based investor relations firm, with insider trading ahead of impending news announcements by more than a dozen clients.  According to the government, Lucarelli repeatedly accessed clients’ draft press releases stored on his firm’s computer network prior to public announcements and then routinely purchased stock or call options in advance of favorable news and sold short or bought put options ahead of unfavorable news, garnering nearly $1 million in illicit profits.  SEC

August 22, 2014

The SEC charged California-based telecommunications equipment company AirTouch Communications and its former CEO and CFO with orchestrating a fraudulent revenue recognition scheme under which they improperly recognized as revenue more than a million dollars’ worth of inventory that was shipped to a Florida warehouse but not actually sold.  They’re also accused of defrauding an investor from whom they secured a $2 million loan for the company based on misstatements and omissions associated with the inventory shipments.  SEC

August 18, 2014

The SEC charged Patrick O’Neill, former senior vice president at Eastern Bank in Massachusetts, with insider trading in advance of the bank’s acquisition of Wainwright Bank & Trust Company.  SEC

August 15, 2014

The SEC charged Andrew I. Farmer and his Houston-based penny stock company Chimera Energy for a pump-and-dump scheme that misled investors to believe the company was on the brink of developing revolutionary technology to enable environmentally friendly oil-and-gas production.  According to the SEC, Chimera issued around three dozen press releases in a two-month period about its supposed licensing and development of technology to extract shale oil without the perceived environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing known as fracking.  However, Chimera Energy did not actually license or even possess the technology it touted and had not achieved the claimed results in commercially developing it.  While the stock was being pumped by the false claims, entities controlled by Farmer dumped more than 6 million shares on the public markets for illicit proceeds of more than $4.5M.  SEC
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