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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.

August 8, 2014

The SEC charged New York-based brokerage firm Crucible Capital Group and its founder Charles “Chuck” Moore for allegedly violating net capital requirements and falsifying books and records to conceal the capital deficiencies.  According to the SEC, they attempted to disguise the firm’s extensive net capital insufficiencies by improperly off-loading its liabilities onto the books of an affiliated firm and improperly treating non-marketable stock as an allowable asset.  Moore went so far as to try to hide Crucible’s true financial condition from SEC examiners by providing them doctored invoices that sought to mask the extent of those liabilities.  SEC

August 7, 2014

The SEC charged Anthony G. Blumberg, the former CEO of a broker-dealer subsidiary of ConvergEx Group LLC, with deceiving brokerage customers with hidden fees to buy and sell securities.  According to the SEC, the scheme entailed concealing the practice of routing orders to an offshore affiliate in Bermuda to add mark-ups or mark-downs.  The hidden fees known as “trading profits” were in addition to and often much higher than the commissions paid by customers to have their orders executed.  The charges against Blumberg follow those announced in December by the SEC against three ConvergEx subsidiaries that agreed to pay more than $107 million and admit wrongdoing to settle the matter.  SEC

August 4, 2014

The SEC charged Houston-based oil-and-gas exploration and production company Houston American Energy Corp. and its CEO John F. Terwilliger with making fraudulent claims about the company’s oil reserves.  According to the SEC, Terwilliger and his company fraudulently claimed that a Colombian exploration concession in which Houston American only owned a fractional interest held between 1 billion and 4 billion barrels of oil reserves, and that the reserves were worth more than $100 per share to Houston American’s investors.  SEC

August 1, 2014

The SEC obtained a final judgment requiring Richmond, Va.-based financial services holding company AIC Inc., its subsidiary brokerage firm Community Bankers Securities LLC, and their CEO Nicholas D. Skaltsounis to pay nearly $70 million for conducting an offering fraud while selling AIC promissory notes and stock to numerous investors across multiple states, many of whom were elderly or unsophisticated brokerage customers.  SEC

July 31, 2014

Virginia-based broker Donna Jessee Tucker agreed to disgorge $730,000 in ill-gotten gains to settle charges of defrauding elderly customers, including some who are legally blind, by stealing their funds for her personal use and falsifying their account statements to cover up her fraud.  SEC

July 31, 2014

LA-based broker Michael A. Horowitz agreed to pay more than $850,000 to settle charges he participated in a variable annuities scheme designed to profit from the imminent deaths of the terminally ill.  As part of his scheme, he deceived his own brokerage firm to obtain the approvals he needed to sell the annuities and generate hefty sales commissions.  He also falsified various broker-dealer forms used by firms to conduct investment suitability reviews, causing some insurance companies to unwittingly issue variable annuities they may not have sold otherwise.  SEC

July 30, 2014

The SEC charged CEO Marc Sherman and former CFO Edward L. Cummings of Florida-based computer equipment company QSGI Inc. with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by misrepresenting to external auditors and the investing public the state of the company’s internal controls over financial reporting.  SEC

July 29, 2014

The SEC charged penny stock company MSGI Technology Solutions and its CEO J. Jeremy Barbera with defrauding investors by touting a joint venture to develop and manage solar energy farms across the country on land purportedly owned by an electricity provider operated by Christopher Plummer.  Barbera and Plummer co-authored press releases falsely portraying MSGI as a successful renewable energy company on the brink of profitable solar energy projects.  However, MSGI had no operations, customers, or revenue at the time, and Plummer’s company did not actually possess any of the assets or financing needed to develop the purported solar energy farms.  SEC
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