Securities Industry Commentator by Bill Singer Esq

May 25, 2018

Court Enters Final Judgment Against Florida Resident Charged with Market Manipulation Scheme (SEC Litigation Release No. 24149)
In a Complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the SEC alleged that Gregory M. Bercowy manipulated the price of pennystock Aureus, Inc. while he was associated with a state-registered investment adviser. Bercowy stated in recorded phone calls with a representative of a brokerage firm that he and others were trying to boost Aureus's stock price. Pursuant to a default judgment, Bercowy is enjoined from future securities law violations and ordered to pay a civil penalty of $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in an offering of a penny stock. READ the FULL TEXT SEC Complaint

As The FINRA WORM Turns ( Blog) Blog publisher Bill Singer, Esq. lets it fly today with his analysis of a FINRA regulatory settlement involving a four-rep member firm. It's not that the firm didn't screw up. It appears that it did. Some nonsense involving how it stored emails going back some six years. Bill gives FINRA that much. There was misconduct. There were violations. He's not arguing those points. On the other hand, what's accomplished with the meaningless gesture of a Censure and the impotent imposition of a $5,000 fine? Would you like fries with that settlement? Would you like to super-size your beverage? Is that to go? Will that be cash or charge? Have a nice day!
The CFTC file a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of California charging Defendants Jin Choi and his companies, Apuro Holdings Ltd. (Apuro) d/b/a ApuroFX and JCI Holdings USA (JCI) d/b/a JCI Trading Group, LLC, with off-exchange retail foreign currency (forex) fraud and failure to register as a Commodity Trading Advisor and Associated Person of a Commodity Trading Advisor. CFTC seeks restitution to defrauded investors, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, civil monetary penalties, permanent registration and trading bans, and a permanent injunction against future violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. READ the FULL TEXT CFTC Complaint
As set forth in part in the CFTC Litigation Release:

The Complaint alleges that, from at least January 2014 through the present, Choi, individually and as agent and principal of Apuro and JCI, has fraudulently solicited at least $350,600 from not less than six individuals (clients) for the purported purpose of trading off-exchange leveraged or margined retail forex contracts on their behalf.  Choi allegedly solicited and continues to solicit clients and prospective clients in person and at investor seminars hosted by Choi in the United States and abroad, through social media services (including Facebook and Instagram), and through various websites operated by Choi.  As alleged, in their solicitations, Defendants, by and through Choi, made material misrepresentations and omissions concerning Choi's trading expertise and successful track record.  Defendants also allegedly misrepresented that all of clients' funds would be used to open trading accounts in their names to trade forex on their behalf and that ApuroFX is a CFTC-registered Futures Commission Merchant. 

Client Funds Allegedly Misappropriated to Support Choi's Lavish Lifestyle  

In fact, however, the Complaint alleges that Defendants never opened any trading accounts in clients' names and never conducted any trading on behalf of clients.  Instead, Defendants misappropriated all of the at least $350,600 in client funds to support Choi's lavish lifestyle and to return approximately $24,000 to certain clients as purported "profits" in the manner of a "Ponzi" scheme, as alleged in the Complaint.  Defendants allegedly used the majority of clients' funds to pay for Choi's personal expenses, including paying for the rental of a Beverly Hills condominium; the purchase and lease of luxury automobiles; shopping sprees at high-end retailers mostly located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California; travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, for gambling and luxury hotel stays; the purchase of cell phones; and for cash withdrawals.