In re Credit Karma, Inc. (A.P. Mar. 12, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondent, a pre-IPO internet-based financial technology company, for allegedly failing to properly register employee equity grants and associated distributions.  The SEC alleges that Respondent issued approximately $13.8 million in stock options to its employees without registering the offering.  Respondent has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $160,000.

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In re Robert Joseph Ritch (A.P. Mar. 9, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondent, the principal of a purported investment fund, for alleged misrepresentations in connection with solicitations to potential investors. The SEC alleges that Respondent authorized inaccurate statements to potential investors on his website and blog regarding his investment management experience and his criminal history. Respondent has agreed to officer or director and penny stock bars and to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 and post-order interest.

SEC Order

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In re Elbit Imaging, Ltd. (A.P. Mar. 9, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondent, an Israeli holding company, for allegedly tolerating violations of the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA.  The SEC alleges that Respondent made payments to third-party consultants and sales agents for purported services related to a Romanian real estate development project and the sale of U.S. real estate assets without evidence that the consultants and sales agents provided the contracted-for services. The SEC further alleges that Respondent failed ... Continue Reading

In re Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith Inc. (A.P. Mar. 8, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondent, a registered broker-dealer, for allegedly effecting an unregistered distribution of a China-based issuer’s shares.  The SEC alleges that Respondent negligently facilitated a purported gift of shares to the issuer’s Chairman that was an unregistered distribution, despite red flags that the gift was an unregistered sale being made by or on behalf of an affiliate of the issuer.  Accordingly, the SEC found that Respondent failed to make a reasonable inquiry and therefore the ... Continue Reading

In re Voya Investments, LLC and Directed Services, LLC (A.P. Mar. 8, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondents, two investment advisers, for alleged failure to disclose conflicts of interest.  The SEC alleges that Respondents periodically recalled portfolio securities of mutual funds they advised in order to enable the record holders of the loans to take dividend-received deductions, resulting in an undisclosed conflict of interest.  Respondents have agreed to pay, jointly and severally, disgorgement of $2,635,490.25, prejudgment interest of $511,978.89, and a civil penalty of $500,000.

SEC Order

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SEC v. Americrude, et al. (N.D. Tex. Mar. 7, 2018, Partially Settled and Partially Contested)

Action against Defendants, an oil-and-gas company, its nominal president, and its effective principal, for allegedly making misleading statements in connection with fraudulent offerings and misappropriating investor funds. According to the SEC, Defendants lured investors into seven fraudulent offerings that purported to raise funds to acquire working interests in oil-and-gas prospects. The SEC also alleges that Defendants solicited investors without being registered as a broker-dealer and misappropriated more than $196,000 of investor funds. Americrude’s nominal president ... Continue Reading

In re Valor Capital Management, LLC and Robert Mark Magee (A.P. Mar. 6, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondents, an investment management company and its principal, for an alleged “cherry-picking” scheme. The SEC alleges that Respondents disproportionately allocated profitable trades from the corporate Respondent’s omnibus trading account to the individual Respondent’s personal accounts, while disproportionately allocating unprofitable or less profitable trades to client accounts. Respondents have agreed to pay, jointly and severally, disgorgement of $505,663 and prejudgment interest of $50,208.57.

SEC Order

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In re New York Stock Exchange, LLC, et al. (A.P. Mar. 6, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondents, three stock exchanges, for alleged failure to implement required and effective rules, failure to comply with exchange rules, and failure to comply with Regulation SCI.  The SEC alleges that Respondents inaccurately identified stock prices as “automated” during a period of technical difficulties, erroneously implemented a trading halt, applied price collars during unusual market volatility without a rule to permit them, lacked required policies and procedures for backup and disaster recovery capabilities, and ... Continue Reading

SEC v. Jeffrey O. Friedland, et al. (D. Colo. Mar. 5, 2018, Contested)

Action against Defendant, an investor, as well as his spouse and associated entities, for promoting an Israeli medical marijuana research company without disclosing the true nature of his relationship to the firm. The SEC alleges that Defendant did not disclose to investors that he was compensated in shares of the firm for media and investor relations efforts, and that he ultimately sold his shares for almost $7 million, which he used to fund independent investments ... Continue Reading

SEC v. Robert M. Morano (D. Or. Mar. 5, 2018, Contested)

Action against Defendant, an employee of UTi Worldwide, Inc. (“UTi”), a transportation and logistics company, for allegedly trading on material nonpublic information regarding his employer’s pending acquisition by DSV Air & Sea Holdings A/V. The SEC alleges that Defendant, who was responsible for helping to publish press releases, learned of the acquisition the day before it was announced, purchased 17,500 shares of UTi, and then sold them at a substantial profit following the announcement.

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In re Financial Fiduciaries, LLC and Thomas Batterman (A.P. Mar. 5, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondents, a financial advisory firm and its principal, for alleged failure to disclose conflicts of interest to clients.  The SEC alleges that Respondent firm accepted referrals from a wealth management company that also acted as its trustee, without disclosing the relationship to clients.  The corporate Respondent has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000.  The individual Respondent has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $20,000.

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In re Edwin Shaw, LLC (A.P. Mar. 5, 2018, Settled)

Action against Respondent, a firm specializing in facilitating EB-5 investments, for allegedly operating as a broker-dealer without registering with the Commission.  The SEC alleges that Respondent facilitated 30 or more foreign investments in the United States through the EB-5 program without registering as a broker-dealer.  Respondent has agreed to pay disgorgement of $400,000, prejudgment interest of $ 54,209.20, and a civil penalty of $90,535.

SEC Order

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CFTC v. Ron Olen Friedrichsen (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, 2018, Contested)

Action against Defendant, a purported commodity trading advisor, for allegedly soliciting clients under false names and without properly registering with the CFTC. The CFTC alleges that Defendant solicited clients via Craigslist ads, telephone, and email, while making false and misleading statements concerning his trading successes and guaranteed profits.

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SEC v. Dennis J. Mancino, et al. (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, 2018, Contested)

Action against Defendants, two microcap companies, their principals, and associated persons and entities, for allegedly engaging in a pump-and-dump scheme in connection with microcap securities. The SEC alleges that Defendants discussed artificially inflating the companies’ stock with undercover FBI agents and agreed to generate press materials for the purpose of making misleading recommendations to potential investors. A parallel criminal proceeding has been initiated.

SEC Litigation Release 

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SEC v. Beaufort Securities Ltd., et al. (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, 2018, Contested)

Action against Defendants, a broker-dealer and its investment manager, for allegedly engaging in a pump-and-dump scheme in connection with microcap securities. The SEC alleges that, among other things, Defendants discussed artificially inflating a home-security company’s stock with an undercover FBI agent. The SEC further alleges that Defendants opened trading accounts for undercover agents in order to facilitate the scheme. A parallel criminal proceeding has been initiated.

SEC Litigation Release

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