Financial Enforcement Actions | Week of November 09 to November 15
Respondent: Arete Financial Group
Violation: Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 53(b), empowers this Court to grant injunctive and such other relief as the Court may deem appropriate to halt and redress violations of any provision of law enforced by the FTC. This Court, in the exercise of its equitable jurisdiction, may award ancillary relief, including rescission or reformation of contracts, restitution, the refund of monies paid, and the disgorgement of ill-gotten monies, to prevent and remedy any violation of any provision of law enforced by the FTC... Read More
Respondent: Thang Nguyen
Violation: Nguyen’s conduct caused the Bank to suffer a financial loss in the amount of approximately $101,600.00, and posed legal and reputational risks to the Bank... Read More
Respondent: Markesan State Bank
Violation: The Bank shall not, directly or indirectly, extend, renew, or restructure any credit to or for the benefit of any borrower, including any related interest of the borrower, whose loans or other extensions of credit are criticized in the Report of Examination, or in any subsequent report of examination, without the prior approval of a majority of the full board of directors or a designated committee thereof... Read More
Respondent: Sebastian Pintothomaz
Violation: The Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) deems it appropriate, necessary for the protection of investors, and in the public interest that public administrative proceedings be, and hereby are, instituted pursuant to Section 15E(d)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) against Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz (“Pinto-Thomaz” or “Respondent”)... Read More
Respondent: Gregory M. Bercowy
Violation: Bercowy had pled guilty on March 27, 2019 to the charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. In the SEC's civil action, on May 22, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida entered a judgment by default against Bercowy that enjoined Bercowy from future violations of antifraud and anti-manipulation provisions of the federal securities laws, ordered Bercowy to pay a civil penalty of $507,513, and permanently bars him from participating in an offering of a penny stock. On May 29, 2019, the Commission barred Bercowy from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent, or nationally recognized statistical rating organization... Read More
Respondent: American Growth Funding II, LLC, et al.
Violation: PAA, Allen, and Wasserman made false and misleading statements in the private placement offering of American Growth Funding II, LLC (AGF II). The SEC alleged that AGF II, which raised capital from investors to provide loans to businesses, and its owner, Ralph C. Johnson, promised investors 12 percent annual returns and falsely claimed in offering documents that its financial statements were being audited each year. The SEC further alleged that PAA, Allen, and Wasserman knew the offering documents were inaccurate yet continued using them to solicit sales of AGF II securities. The jury found that PAA, Allen and Wasserman engaged in fraud when soliciting sales of AGF II securities... Read More
Respondent: CIHC Inc., Conseco Services, LLC, and Conseco Equity Sales, Inc.
Violation: The Notice advised all interested parties that they could obtain a copy of the Distribution Plan from the Commission’s public website or by submitting a written request to George S. Canellos, Regional Director, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, 3 World Financial Center, Room 400, New York, NY 10281. The Notice also advised that all persons desiring to comment on the Distribution Plan had to submit their comments, in writing, within 30 days of the date of the Notice. No comments were received in response to the Notice. On February 26, 2010, the Commission issued an Order Approving Plan, Appointing a Fund Administrator, and Waiving Bond... Read More
Respondent: Reginald Middleton, et al.
Violation: According to the SEC's complaint, filed August 12, 2019, Veritaseum, Inc. and Veritaseum, LLC ("Veritaseum"), and their owner, Reginald Middleton ("Middleton"), fraudulently raised millions of dollars in virtual currency from the unregistered sales of securities called "VERI" based on a series of false and misleading statements to potential and actual investors, including misrepresentations about the potential profitability and viability of Veritaseum's purported operations, the use of funds raised in the VERI ICO, and the amount of funds raised in the VERI ICO. The SEC also alleged that Middleton manipulated the price and volume of VERI on secondary digital-asset trading platforms during the VERI ICO... Read More
Respondent: Jerry Li
Violation: The SEC's complaint alleges that from 2006 to 2016, Li orchestrated a scheme in China to bribe local, provincial, and national government officials in order to obtain direct selling licenses and curtail government investigations of his company's business practices. The complaint further alleges that Li directed that the bribes be made through payments of cash, gifts, travel, meals and entertainment, and that Li falsified company expense reports to conceal the bribes... Read More
Respondent: Merrill Robertson, Jr., et al.
Violation: The criminal charges against Robertson arose from the same conduct alleged in a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the SEC's complaint, Robertson, Sherman C. Vaughn Jr., and the company they co-owned, Cavalier Union Investments LLC, promised to invest in diversified holdings but stole nearly $6 million of the more than $10 million they raised from investors. They spent the stolen money on personal expenses such as cars, family vacations, repayment of mortgage and credit-card debt, luxury goods, clothing, entertainment, educational expenses for family members, and a luxury suite at a football stadium. Vaughn previously pled guilty in the criminal case... Read More