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Shawn Baldwin, a Chicago investment manager, is charged with eight counts of wire fraud. Baldwin, who owns a number of investment-related firms, is accused of fraudulently obtaining over $10M from at least 17 individual investors and corporate lenders between 2006 and May 2017.

According to the criminal indictment accusing him of financial fraud, Baldwin made false claims about his professional success and connections, including that his firm was affiliated with professional advisors and compliance officers with whom it, in fact, had no ties. He also allegedly misrepresented the seriousness of disciplinary actions that he had been subject to by regulators. Among these were that he was permanently barred from offering investment advice or securities in the state of Illinois, as well as that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority had taken away his professional registrations eight years ago. In 2006, the National Association of Securities Dealers barred his firm, CMG Institutional Trading, for failing to meet the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s requirements regarding capital.

Baldwin is accused of telling investors that their money would go into investment products when, in reality, he allegedly used their funds for his own use. He purportedly tried to hide his investment scam by generating fraudulent account statements that didn’t accurately reflect the value of customers’ funds. He also made it appear as if he was involved in profitable business deals and was setting up new contacts that would lead to money from IPOs. In truth, claim prosecutors, Baldwin knew he wouldn’t be able to pay back investors because he had either spent or lost their money.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has imposed a $1.75M penalty on Ameriprise (AMP) related to its sale of F-Squared Alpha Sector strategies. The financial firm must also disgorge $7.3M.

According to the regulator, F-Squared Investments made mistakes when calculating the historical performance of its Alpha Sector investment strategies. These sector rotation strategies were predicated upon the use of an algorithm that gave off a “signal” noting whether to sell or purchase certain exchange-traded funds that collectively comprised the industries in the S & P 500 Index.

However, claimed the regulator, F-Squared erred when it implemented these signals prior to when they could have happened. The Commission accused the firm of employing back-tested and hypothetical historical performance data that was inflated, rather than using what the AlphaSector’s performance would have been if there hadn’t been any signal-related errors, to come up with the investment’s track record.

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SEC Awards Whistleblower $4.1M
A company insider who notified the US Securities Exchange Commission about a “widespread, multi-year securities law violation” involving the employer, is getting a $4.1M whistleblower award. The individual, who is a foreign national employed abroad, also provided information and help during the regulator’s probe. Further details about the case have been kept confidential so as to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of the whistleblower.

This is the third whistleblower award issued this month by the SEC. The regulator awarded two other people $8M each for their help in another successful enforcement action.

To date, the SEC whistleblower program has awarded 50 whistleblowers over $179M.

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Nehal Chopra, founder of the hedge fund Ratan Capital Management, and her husband Paritosh Gupta have settled US Securities and Exchange Commission charges alleging that they acted improperly: He, by sharing confidential investment recommendations with her and she, by not disclosing to her clients that her husband was the one who gave her this information.

Gupta worked at Brahman Capital, a hedge fund firm. He later launched Adi Capital Management, also a hedge fund firm. Brahman and Ratan are competitors in their field.

According to the SEC, Gupta provided Chopra with information developed for Brahman’s own clients, as well as the timing of Brahman’s sizes and positions, and he advised her about certain investments. In one example noted by the regulator, Gupta asked his wife about the size of her firm’s position in one security. After she responded, he advised her to increase that position. Ratan would go on to buy more shares that day.

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David Webb, the ex-Illinois mayor of the city of Markham, has agreed to partially resolve fraud charges brought by the SEC accusing him of involvement in a $5.5M municipal bond scam. The regulator accused Webb of taking part in a pay-to-play scheme that involved a $75K bribe from a construction contractor. In return, Webb is accused of directing one of the city’s construction projects to the contractor. The alleged fraud involved a $5.5 muni bond offering that the city offered in 2012.

According to the Commission’s complaint, at a Markham council meeting that year, talks took place to authorize the $5.5M of general obligation bonds to help pay for certain city projects. It was during this conversation that an attendee spoke out saying she’d heard that the owner of a roller rink stood to “improperly benefit.” The owner of the rink was Markham’s city attorney at the time and the roller ring was one of the city projects involved. Webb, however, responded by saying “I don’t make deals” even though he purportedly had recently been paid the bribe to the construction contractor. The regulator claims that the pay-to-play scam involving the city’s Roesner Park development project was already in place.

The bond offering was approved.

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The US Securities and Exchange Commision has awarded $16M to two whistleblowers—$8M each—for the crucial information and help they provided in bringing a successful securities enforcement action. If you consider that a whistleblower may be eligible for 10-30% of funds collected when the monetary sanctions of the SEC action that the individual helped to bring is greater than $1M, the sanctions imposed in this latest case must have been significant.

According to the regulator, one whistleblower reported a “particular misconduct” that became central to the SEC’s enforcement action. The other whistleblower provided additional key information and continued to cooperate with the agency during its probe. The latter’s contributions reportedly saved the Commission time and resources.

These latest awards bring the amount awarded to SEC whistleblowers—49 of them—to over $175M. Alleged wrongdoers accused in the regulators’ cases have been ordered to pay $1B in financial remedies, including over $671M in disgorgement.

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Craig Scott Capital, LLC Loses FINRA Membership After Its Representatives Are Accused of Excessive Trading
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has expelled Craig Scott Capital, LLC over finding that three of the firm’s registered representatives allegedly engaged in excessive trading in the accounts of customers. The self-regulatory organization said that the charges imposed on customers, including markdowns, markups, and commissions, were not in line with the latter’s financial states and goals.

Now, FINRA is holding Craig Scott Capital accountable for the excessive trading, which it described as churning. This type of excessive trading involves making trades in a customer’s account in order to earn a commission.

FINRA is also accusing the firm of not putting into place and enforcing a “reasonable supervisory system” to prevent excessive trading and failing to properly supervise the registered representatives involved in the alleged wrongdoing so these behaviors could have been prevented. The regulator accused Craig Scott’s owners of not taking reasonable action even though they detected the red flags indicating that excessive trading might be taking place.

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Avaneesh Krishnamoorthy, an ex-risk manager for Nomura Holdings Inc. in the USA, has been sentenced to three months in prison. Krishnamoorthy pleaded guilty earlier this year to securities fraud related to allegations that he traded on information about Golden Gate Capital LP’s plans to buy NeuStar Inc. He made $48K in the process.

The ex-Nomura risk manager, who was a firm vice president, purchased hundreds of NeuStar shares using an undisclosed brokerage account belonging to his wife. He did this after reading an internal confidential email about the planned purchase. Nomura helped finance the deal.

In September, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that a final judgment had been reached in its civil case against Krishnamoorthy. Under the terms of the judgment, the ex-Nomura holdings manager is permanently enjoined from violating sections of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, rule 10b-5 thereunder, and the Securities Act of 1933. He also is liable for almost $79K of disgorgement that would be considered fulfilled either by submission of a forfeiture order in the criminal case against him or proof of payment. Additionally, the former Nomura VP was ordered to pay more than $1200K in interest and serve permanent bars from involvement in penny stock offerings and the securities industry.

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FINRA Orders JPMorgan Securities to Pay $1.25M
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said that J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPM) will pay $1.25M for not conducting proper background checks—or, in certain instances, conducting them but not in a timely enough manner—from 1/2009 through 5/2017 on 8,600 of its associated persons that were non-registered. According to the self-regulatory organization, this included the failure to properly fingerprint about 2,000 non-registered associated persons. The lapses kept the brokerage firm from knowing whether these individuals should be disqualified from employment.

Meantime, other non-registered associates persons who were fingerprinted were only screened for criminal convictions as they related to federal banking laws, as well as to list that was “internally created.” Still, said FINRA, four people who warranted disqualification due to a prior criminal conviction were allowed to work as non-registered associated persons.

Under federal securities laws, breakage firms must fingerprint certain associated staff even if they are employed in a non-registered manner because they could still pose a risk to customers otherwise. Fingerprinting allows for the identification of folk convicted of past crimes that may disqualify them from working for a firm in an associated role.

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SEC Files Fraud Charges Against Oyster Bay, NY

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed municipal securities fraud charges against the New York City of Oyster Bay along with John Venditto, who was a former supervisor of the town. According to the regulator, the Long Island Town and Venditto defrauded investors through 26 municipal securities offerings from 8/2010 to 12/15. A parallel criminal action has been brought against the ex-town supervisor.

The regulator’s complaint claims Oyster Bay and Venditto hid a number of side deals with a businessman who ran concession stands and restaurants at local facilities. Part of the deals included agreeing to “indirectly guarantee” a number of private loans totaling over $20M to this vendor. “Gifts, bribes, kickbacks, and political support” also were allegedly involved.