Federal Court Puts the Confidential Back Into Confidential Settlement Agreement (BrokeAndBroker.com Blog)Legal Experts Debate Personal Liability for Chief Compliance Officers (FinOps Report by Chris Kentouris)Trader At Large Canadian Asset Management Firm Charged With Insider Trading For Engaging In Multimillion-Dollar Front Running Scheme / Sean Wygovsky Stole Confidential Trade Information from His Employer to Place Hundreds of Timely, Profitable Trades in Years-Long Scheme (DOJ Release)SEC Charges Disbarred Attorney with Violating an Order Barring Him from Appearing or Practicing as an Attorney Before the Commission (SEC Release)Four Indicted for Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud and Money Laundering in International Telemarketing Scheme Targeting Seniors (DOJ Release)
[C]aniff and another individual formed Berkley Capital Management, LLC in January 2016 which purported to be in the business of trading binary options. Berkley Capital Management was the general partner for Bbot 1 LP (Bbot) which was created in January 2016 and Berkley II LP (Berkley II), which was created in August 2017. Bbot 1 LP and Berkley II LP were established as an investment pool that would offer participants the opportunity to trade binary options in a pool with other participants.Caniff was the designated trader for Bbot and Berkley II. Caniff established bank accounts for Berkley Capital Management, Bbot 1, and Berkley II and had control of the bank accounts.The indictment alleges that Caniff knowingly made and caused to be made materially false representations to investors to fraudulently obtain and retain money, including false representations about the risks involved with the investments, the expected and actual returns on investments, and the ways investor funds would be used and were used. Caniff created or caused to be created false documents in order to mislead investors, including false account statements.The indictment also alleges that, even though Bbot and Berkley II received more than $4 million in funds from investors, Caniff caused only $85,000 of the funds to be invested through Nadex, an online binary options exchange. Caniff fraudulently misappropriated at least $2 million of investors' funds for his own benefit and the benefit of a business partner, the indictment charges.
SEAN WYGOVSKY has been employed at the Employer Firm since approximately 2013. The Employer Firm is an asset management firm based in Toronto, Canada, with at least approximately $19 billion in assets under management. WYGOVSKY has a number of close relatives who live in the United States, including a relative in North Carolina ("Relative-1") and two relatives in Virginia ("Relative-2" and Relative-3") who are married to each other.The Front Running SchemeBased on his position as a trader at the Employer Firm, WYGOVSKY had access to the trade information and trade orders of the Employer Firm. Like most large asset managers, the Employer Firm had rules and regulations concerning employees' personal trading, including requirements about the confidentiality of client information and prohibitions against insider trading and personal trading in the same securities as the Employer Firm. The size of the Employer Firm's trade orders often caused slight, temporary movements in the price of the securities traded. For example, if the Employer Firm engaged in a large purchase of stock, the increased demand could cause a slight rise in the stock price, and if the Employer Firm engaged in a large sale of stock, the increased supply could cause a slight drop in the stock price. Because WYGOVSKY had access to the Employer Firm's trade orders, he knew in advance when a particular stock price would move slightly up or down based on that trading.WYGOVSKY's relatives maintained brokerage accounts for the personal purchase and sale of securities. In particular, Relative-1 maintained at least one brokerage account and Relative-2 and Relative-3 maintained at least four brokerage accounts (the "Subject Accounts"). From at least 2015 through April 2021, after obtaining information about the Employer Firm's upcoming trading activity but before those trades were executed, WYGOVSKY caused the Subject Accounts to buy or sell the same securities the Employer Firm would be buying or selling, in order to profit through the subsequent movement of the stock that would often result from the Employer Firm's trading. WYGOVSKY would then cause the Subject Accounts to exit those positions once the Employer Firm's trading was underway, often within hours of when the Subject Accounts had first entered the positions. For example, if WYGOVSKY knew that the Employer Firm would be buying a particular stock, WYGOVSKY would cause one or more of the Subject Accounts to purchase that stock beforehand in relatively small amounts. Then, as the Employer Firm made relatively large purchases, the stock price would increase and WYGOVSKY would cause the Subject Accounts to sell their holdings at a profit.At times, WYGOVSKY personally conducted the trading on behalf of both the Employer Firm and the Subject Accounts. For example, on occasion, IP log-ins from the Subject Accounts show the Subject Accounts were being accessed from locations where WYGOVSKY was travelling. On other occasions, WYGOVSKY would cause others to execute the timely, profitable trading in the Subject Accounts. Over an approximately five-year period, WYGOVSKY caused the Subject Accounts to engage in more than 700 such short-term timely, profitable trades, resulting in at least over $3.6 million of profits in the Subject Accounts.Financial Transfers Back to WygovskyDuring the course of the front running scheme, Relative-2 and Relative-3 caused at least approximately hundreds of thousands of dollars to be sent back to WYGOVSKY from the Subject Accounts. For example, between 2015 and 2020, Relative-2 and Relative-3 moved millions of dollars from the Subject Accounts to bank accounts that they controlled, and wrote checks to WYGOVSKY and his immediate family members for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, in or about late 2017 and early 2018, Relative-2 and Relative-3 transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Slovenian bank for the benefit of certain relatives of WYGOVSKY's wife.
[F]rom approximately January 2015 through at least April 2021, Wygovsky repeatedly traded in his family members' accounts held at brokerage firms in the United States ahead of large trades that were executed on the same days in the accounts of his employer's advisory clients. On over 600 occasions, Wygovsky allegedly bought or sold a stock for one his relatives' accounts either before the client accounts began executing a large order for the same stock on the same side of the market, or during the time period when tranches of such a large order were being executed. Then, typically before the client accounts completed their executions, Wygovsky allegedly closed out the just-established positions in his relatives' accounts, nearly always at a profit.
[H]ackman violated the order by (1) drafting and providing legal advice on SEC filings made by scores of companies, and (2) directly communicating with SEC staff on substantive legal issues concerning SEC filings. The SEC's Application further alleges that Hackman earned more than $800,000 for work that violated his suspension order. The SEC seeks a federal court order requiring him to comply with the suspension order and to disgorge all profits earned in violation of that order.In addition to the charges against Hackman, the Commission instituted administrative proceedings against Elaine A. Dowling, Esq. and Harold P. Gewerter, Esq., pursuant to Section 4C of the Securities Exchange of Act of 1934 and Rule 102(e) of the Commission's Rules of Practice. The administrative proceedings allege that Dowling and Gewerter engaged in improper professional conduct by allowing and enabling Hackman to appear and practice before the SEC in violation of his suspension (and his Nevada disbarment) while they employed Hackman as a purported "paralegal." Gewerter consented to the entry of an order denying him the privilege of appearing or practicing before the Commission. A hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge in the proceeding against Dowling.
[F]rom January 2018 until the present, Ben Schachtschneider and securities fraud recidivist Lambert Vander Tuig defrauded investors by using false statements and other deceptive conduct, such as aliases, to sell purported private placement investments in Biosynetics. The complaint alleges that Vander Tuig and Schachtschneider represented that investor funds would be used for research and development. As alleged, they also falsely described Biosynetics as an established pharmaceutical or nutraceutical company and told multiple investors that Biosynetics had agreements with large retailers to sell Biosynetics' sleep-aid product, when in fact no such agreements exist or existed. The complaint further alleges that Vander Tuig, Schachtschneider, and others raised at least $763,500 in the fraudulent and unregistered offerings from at least 28 investors, including a retired firefighter, a retired military officer, and multiple small business owners. In addition, most investor funds were allegedly misappropriated and used for bank withdrawals, personal expenses, payments to cold-callers working at Vander Tuig's direction, and various unrelated entities. According to the complaint, Schachtschneider and Vander Tuig personally received a combined $107,000 of investor funds.
[S]ince June 2015, the four defendants knowingly, willfully, and intentionally conspired to defraud victims by use of telemarketing. Namely, it is alleged that the defendants and their co-conspirators falsely informed more than 100 victims, most of them elderly, that the victims had won large awards of money and then convinced the victims that they had to pay fees in advance in order to receive their awards.The indictment further alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators sent communications purported to be from a genuine sweepstakes company, financial institutions, and even federal agencies that discussed the purported cash awards, designed to hide the true nature of the conspiracy and to convince victims of the authenticity of the winnings and fees. The defendants then allegedly instructed how and whom the bogus fees and taxes were to be sent. After receiving the victims' money through prepaid cards, money orders, cash, personal checks and wire transfers, the defendants in turn wire transferred and carried to co-conspirators in Jamaica and elsewhere.It is alleged in the indictment that at least $665,000 was stolen in the scheme.
According to the SEC's complaint, filed in September 2016, Scott Fraser, who was a major shareholder in Las Vegas-based penny stock issuer Empowered Products Inc., also ran Contrarian Press, a newsletter publishing business. Fraser and Contrarian Press allegedly coordinated three promotional campaigns touting Empowered Products' stock while concealing their involvement. The SEC alleged that in one of the campaigns, Fraser authored and published the articles in Contrarian Press newsletters using the "Charlie Buck" pseudonym, and in the other two campaigns, Fraser and Contrarian Press hired other promoters to disseminate the promotions to their respective subscriber lists in exchange for fees. According to the complaint, the promotional publications failed to disclose that Empowered Products and Fraser approved and paid for the advertisements.The final judgment against Fraser, entered on July 1, 2021, by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, enjoins Fraser from violating the anti-touting provisions of Section 17(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 and the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and orders him to pay a civil penalty of $125,000. The judgment also bars Fraser from acting as an officer or director of any issuer that has a class of securities registered pursuant to Section 12 of the Exchange Act or that is required to file reports pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act, and bars him from participating in the offer of any penny stock.The SEC dismissed the action against Contrarian Press, LLC, which is now defunct. Yeung, who the SEC alleged coordinated one of the promotional campaigns on behalf of Contrarian Press, consented to a final judgment entered on August 28, 2019, enjoining him from violating Section 17(b) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, ordered disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling $38,276, and a civil penalty of $75,000, as well as barring Yeung from participating in the offer of any penny stock.
In November 2018, Carl submitted to Schwab an invoice he altered and an email he fabricated in order to cause Schwab to pay $15,000 to a vendor, purportedly for consulting services provided to a Schwab advisor client (Client 1) and pursuant to Client 1's expense agreement with the firm. In fact, no such services had been provided to Client 1. Carl wanted Schwab to pay the vendor for services it had provided to another Schwab client (Client 2), which did not have an expense agreement with the firm. Schwab paid the invoice in December 2018.Similarly, in March 2019, Carl submitted to Schwab two more altered invoices and accompanying fabricated emails to cause Schwab to pay approximately $4,000 to another vendor-again purportedly for services provided to Client 1. Again, no such services had been provided to Client 1. Carl wanted Schwab to pay the vendor for services provided to a different Schwab client (Client 3), which did not have an expense agreement with the firm. The firm paid the invoice in April 2019.. . .Beginning in 2014, Carl was one of the principals of a holding company (Holdings), which he used to rent his family's vacation property. By March 2016, Carl began using Holdings to provide consulting services to investment advisors, including clients of Schwab. In March 2016, Carl solicited one of Schwab's advisory clients (Client 4) to enter into a contract with Holdings. Client 4 agreed to pay Holdings a minimum quarterly fee to locate, hire, and pay vendors and professionals that Client 4 needed. Part of the services Holdings agreed to provide was obtaining the best custodian for Client 4-a conflict of interest in that Carl's job at Schwab entailed, in part, attracting advisory clients to Schwab's custodial services.Similarly, in March 2019, Carl solicited another Schwab client (Client 5) to contract with Holdings. The proposed agreement, which was never executed, contained a confidentiality provision prohibiting it from being disclosed to Schwab and conditioned favorable Schwab pricing if Client 5 were to become a Holdings client.Carl was compensated for his work for Holdings, including receiving more than $40,000 from 2016 through 2018. Carl failed to provide written notice to Schwab of Holdings at any time, including beginning in 2016, when Holdings began providing consulting services. In addition, Carl falsely answered "no" when asked on multiple annual firm compliance questionnaires if he had a disclosable outside business activity, including whether he had received compensation or had a reasonable expectation of compensation through a business activity outside of the firm.
During the relevant period, Orlando engaged in quantitatively unsuitable trading in 13 customer accounts held by a total of 12 customers (one customer held two accounts). Orlando recommended high frequency trading in the 13 customer accounts, and he often recommended the sale of one security and the simultaneous investment of the sale proceeds into a new security within short time periods. Orlando's customers routinely followed his recommendations and, as a result, Orlando exercised de facto control over the customers' accounts.. . .Orlando's trading in these customers' accounts was excessive and unsuitable given the customers' investment profiles. As a result of Orlando's excessive trading, the customers suffered collective realized losses of $483,680, while paying total trading costs of $581,216, including commissions of $496,872.
[T]he parties are claiming investors become limited partners in the private equity fund and their principal is used for a variety of purposes - such as creating secured, high-interest asset-backed small business loans and investing in real estate. These transactions purportedly generate sufficient revenue that ensures Prestige Equity can guarantee payment of 12% annual returns to investors.According to the order, it's actually a fraudulent scheme. Although Prestige Equity is telling investors they will become limited partners in the private equity fund, investors do not actually purchase limited partnership interests. According to the order, investors execute a contract that simply provides they open accounts at Prestige Equity - not that they purchase limited partnership interests in any type of fund.The parties are also telling potential investors the company was founded in Dallas in 2001 - and providing investors with an address for its headquarters. According to the order, however, the parties did not organize Prestige Equity at any time prior to 2021 and it does not maintain an office at the address provided to investors. The promoter is concealing its real location, according to the action.