Category Archives: Enforcement
 

SEC Charges Investment Adviser Rep with Cherry Picking Profitable Trades for Personal Account

October 12, 2020

On September 28, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint against an investment adviser representative located in Nebraska for allegedly cherry picking profitable trades for his personal investment account, while disproportionately assigning unprofitable trades to investment advisory client accounts. During the alleged scheme, which ran from January 2017 to March 2018, the SEC asserts that the investment adviser representative earned a 4.4% return on his personal investment account while his disfavored clients earned a negative 12.56% return. Click here to read the SEC’s complaint.

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SEC Issues Cease and Desist Order Against Dual BD/RIA for Revenue Sharing on Money Market Cash Sweep

August 24, 2020

On August 13, 2020 the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed an order instituting administrative cease-and-desist proceedings to a dually registered investment adviser firm/introducing broker-dealer firm for allegedly failing to disclose material conflicts of interest related to its mutual fund share class selection practices, receipt of compensation pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“12b-1 fees”), and money market revenue sharing agreements.

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SEC Fines Investment Adviser for Cybersecurity Failures

October 09, 2018

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently fined an Iowa-based investment adviser $1 million for alleged cybersecurity failures that led to a data breach that compromised the personal information of its clients. According to the SEC, information from over 5,600 of the investment adviser’s clients was obtained by criminals impersonating independent advisers. The SEC claims that the intruders gained access through weaknesses within the firm’s cybersecurity procedures. Some of these weaknesses had been exposed during previous fraudulent activity. The investment adviser allegedly failed to update and fix those issues.

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SEC Fines Investment Adviser for Failing to Refund Unearned Fees When Client Terminates Advisory Services

July 26, 2018

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently settled with an investment adviser firm which allegedly had improperly refused to refund $131,000 in unearned advisory fees to 63 departing investment advisory clients. The SEC censured the investment adviser firm and imposed a $100,000 civil penalty on it. The SEC also imposed a $50,000 penalty on the investment adviser firm’s majority owner.

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SEC Enforcement Action: Investment Adviser Fails to Disclose Affiliate Broker-Dealer Conflicts of Interest

March 14, 2017

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an enforcement action recently against an investment adviser firm for its alleged failure to disclose fee sharing arrangements that the investment adviser firm entered with its third-party broker dealer. The investment adviser firm consented to the order without admitting or denying the SEC findings, except as specified within the SEC’s Order. Click here to read the full SEC Order Instituting Administrative and Cease-And-Desist Proceedings.

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SEC Enforcement Action – ETFs and Failure to Follow Policies and Procedures

February 15, 2017

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release announcing that an investment adviser, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, agreed to pay an $8 million penalty to settle charges under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 relating to single inverse ETF investments it had recommended to investment advisory clients. Click here to for the entire press release and here for the SEC’s order.

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SEC Enforcement Action Alleges Cherry-Picking, Double-Dipping, and Fund Mismanagement

October 25, 2016

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently instituted administrative cease-and-desist proceedings against a Washington-based registered investment adviser. The SEC alleges the investment adviser engaged in several schemes meant to defraud clients and unjustly enrich the investment adviser’s personal accounts. Among the alleged wrongdoing was the investment adviser’s scheme to “cherry pick” favorable trades for his personal accounts while allocating unfavorable trades to client accounts. During one relevant period, the SEC claims the investment adviser’s accounts showed a return of 1.39% while the affected client accounts had a -0.78% return. In total, the SEC asserts that the investment advisor profited almost $500,000 while client accounts suffered losses of more than $2 million.

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SEC Penalizes Investment Advisory Firms for Spreading False Performance Claims

September 02, 2016

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently fined thirteen investment adviser firms for promoting performance information for a third party investment product that the SEC alleges the investment adviser firms knew, or should have known, was false. At the heart of the enforcement actions were claims made by a third party money manager who purported to have a time tested investment program that consistently and greatly exceeded standard market returns. The SEC alleged that in fact, the mathematical algorithm underlying the investment program had only been in existence a short period of time and the third party money manager was using selective, back-tested (“hypothetical”) data to promote its new program. Compounding the problem, the investment performance calculations contained an error that further inflated the product’s artificial performance statistics. Despite being notified of the calculation error and knowing the algorithm’s investment performance data was not from actual accounts, the SEC alleged that third party money manager claimed in marketing materials given  to investment adviser firms and investment adviser firm clients that the data was genuine. Click here to read the SEC enforcement action on the third party money manager.

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