California Venture Capitalist to Disgorge $4.875M to Settle Institutional Investor Fraud Charges

The SEC and G. Steven Burrill have reached an agreement to settle charges accusing the biotech venture capitalist of taking money from a fund overseen by his firm to pay for his expensive lifestyle and help support his other businesses. Burrill is accused of hiding from investors that he siphoned money from Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III while claiming that the cash was going toward management fees. In truth, claims the regulator, Burrill used the money to pay for private jets, lavish vacations, gifts, and other items. The investors of the fund include public companies, state pension funds, and others.

Burrill and his Burrill Capital Management have consented to disgorge $4.785M that he is accused of stealing plus pay a $1M penalty. He also will be barred from the securities industry. Commenting on the case, SEC Enforcement Division Director Andrew J. Ceresney said that despite having registration exemption, Burrill and other venture capital advisers have a fiduciary obligation to clients. Ceresney accused Burrill of prioritizing his own interests over that of his clients.

Also settling SEC charges are Burrill Capital Management controller Helena C. Sen and chief legal officer Victor A. Hebert. Hebert is accused of agreeing to call in more money from fund investors even while knowing that the cash would be spent on unrelated expenses. Sen is accused of, along with Burrill, at least twice delaying payment distributions that fund investors were owed so that Burrill’s personal spending and the salaries of Sen and Hebert would continue to be paid. It was in 2013 that the fund’s Investment Committee noticed that all of the capital that had been committed was already spent.

As part of the SEC settlement, Burrill and Sen are permanently suspended from practicing as accountants before the Commission. Hebert is no longer allowed to practice as a lawyer before the SEC.

Our institutional investor fraud lawyers at The SSEK Partners Group would like to offer you a free case consultation.

Read the SEC Order (PDF)