U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Giri, et al., was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on August 11, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act and Commission Regulations. Specifically, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants, disgorgement, rescission, and civil penalties.

The CFTC brought this action against Rathnakishore Giri (“Giri”), SR Private Equity, LLC (“SR Private Equity”), NBD Eidetic Capital, LLC (“NBD Eidetic”), Giri Subramani (“Subramani”), and Loka Pavani Giri (“Pavani Giri”) (collectively, “Defendants”) who are alleged to have engaged in a fraudulent scheme to trade digital assets—mainly bitcoin—on behalf of investors. Defendant Giri is a controlling person of both Defendants NBD Eidetic, an Ohio limited liability company, and SR Private Equity, an Ohio limited liability company. Defendants Subramani and Pavani Giri are the parents of Defendant Giri.

The complaint alleges that starting in or around March 2019, Defendant Giri solicited
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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Okhotnikov was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on August 1, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act in connection with offering and selling unregistered smart contracts operated on the Ethereum, Tron, and Binance blockchains. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants in order to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil damages.

The SEC brought the enforcement action against Defendants Vladimir Okhotnikov (“Okhotnikov”), Jane Doe a/k/a Lola Ferrari (“Ferrari”), Mikail Sergeev (“Sergeev”), and Sergey Maslakov (“Maslakov”)—a set of Russia-based individuals who are alleged to have created, operated, and maintained an online pyramid and Ponzi scheme through smart contracts on various blockchains (collectively, the “Founder Defendants”)—and Defendants Samuel D. Ellis (“Ellis”), Mark F. Hamlin (“Hamlin”), and Sarah L. Theissen (“Theissen”) who are individuals alleged to have engaged in the promotion or sale of the smart contracts to investors within the United States (collectively, the “Promoter Defendants”).

The complaint alleges that in the fall of 2019, the Founder Defendants formed Forsage.io (“Forsage”), an unincorporated entity, for the purpose of coding smart contracts on various blockchains and building a website that would serve as an interface for the promotion and sale of the smart contracts. However, the complaint alleges that from January 2020 until the present, Defendants operated, promoted, and maintained an online pyramid and Ponzi scheme through Forsage, allowing millions of retail investors to enter into transactions via the sale of unregistered smart contracts maintained on the Ethereum, Tron, and Binance blockchains. To date, the transactions have totaled over $300 million.

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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Alexandra Robert et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on July 26, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants in order to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil damages.

The SEC brought this action against Defendants Alexandra Robert (“Robert”), the owner, founder, and CEO of Defendants Chalala Academy LLC (“Chalala”), a Florida limited liability company, and Lendvesting Academy Corp. (“Lendvesting”), a Florida-registered corporation formerly operating as a d/b/a of Chalala.

The complaint alleges from at least May 2020 through August 2021, Defendants fraudulently raised approximately $900,000 from roughly 80 investors, mostly Haitian and Haitian-Americans living in South Florida, by offering unregistered “investment programs” falsely promising guaranteed returns of up to 48%. Defendants falsely told investors that they would make interest generating loans to small businesses that would otherwise not qualify for traditional financing, thereby providing investors with high fixed returns.

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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Boron Capital, LLC et al. was filed in the Northern District Court of Texas, Lubbock Division on June 14, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties.

The SEC brought this action against Boron Capital, LLC (“Boron”), BC Holdings 2017, LLC (“BC Holdings”), United BNB Fund 2018, LLC (“United”), and Blake Robert Templeton (“Templeton”) (collectively, “Defendants”).

Templeton founded Boron, a Nevada limited liability company, in order to operate a real estate business, and Templeton serves as its CEO and managing member. Templeton also controls Defendants United and BC Holdings. United is a Texas limited liability company formed by Templeton that operates as an investment fund managed by Boron. BC Holdings is a Wyoming limited liability company wholly owned by Templeton through which he offered and sold promissory notes in connection with his real estate business.  Templeton offered and sold securities to investors in three forms: (1) promissory notes issued by Defendant Boron; (2) investment units in Defendant United; and (3) promissory notes issued by Defendant BC Holdings.

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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Minuskin, et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on April 8, 2022, claiming violations of several provisions of the Securities Act and Securities Exchange Act. Specifically, the SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief against all Defendants to prevent future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains, and civil penalties.

The SEC brought this action against Julie Minuskin (“Minuskin”), Dennis DiRicco (“DiRicco”), Thomas Casey (“Casey”), Golden Genesis, Inc. (“Golden Genesis”), and Joshua Stoll (“Stoll”) (collectively “Defendants”).  According to the complaint, Defendant Minuskin created Retire Happy LLC (“Retire Happy”), a Nevada limited liability company, which specialized in self-directed IRAs and provided financial education on how to leverage retirement accounts and create passive income by promoting self-directed retirement accounts. Defendant DiRicco was the Chief Financial Officer and board member of Defendant Golden Genesis and the managing member of non-party Until Tomorrow LLC (“Until Tomorrow”). Defendant Casey is the majority owner, Chief Executive Officer, and board member of Defendant Golden Genesis. Defendant Stoll was an account specialist at Retire Happy.

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Chan v. Anthony, et al. was filed in the District Court for Denver County, Colorado on March 1, 2022, asserting claims under the Colorado Securities Act for securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, unlicensed broker/dealer activity, unlicensed investment adviser activity, and unregistered securities.

Tung Chan (“Chan”), Colorado’s Securities Commissioner, brought this action against Defendant David Anthony (“Anthony”) and nine unlicensed investment companies that he owned and operated (collectively with Anthony, the “Defendants”).  Chan also included Anthony’s wife as a relief defendant to claw back funds from the scheme used for the Anthonys’ personal expenses.

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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Swapnil J. Rege and SwapStar Capital, LLC was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on October 26, 2021, claiming the defendants violated the Investment Advisors Act by engaging in fraudulent or deceptive conduct upon an advisory client and charging Rege with violating a 2019 SEC Order barring him from associating with an investment adviser.

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Securities and Exchange Commission v. BNZ One Capital, LLC, et al. was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on October 28, 2021 claiming Defendants violated the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act,  the Securities Exchange Act,  and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, as well as the registration provisions of the Securities Act. The SEC also brings claims against individual Defendants Barber and Zimmerle for violations of the broker-dealer registration provisions of the Exchange Act and accuses them of being secondarily liable for BNZ’s fraud as control persons pursuant to the Exchange Act.

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SEC v. Bullard, et al. is a new complaint filed by the SEC in the District of Minnesota on August 27, 2021.  The complaint alleges Jason Dodd Bullard and his wife Angela Romero-Bullard (the “Bullards”), the owners of Bullard Enterprises LLC (collectively “Defendants”), defrauded around 200 investors of approximately $17.6 million as part of a Ponzi scheme where the Bullards falsely claimed investors funds would be used to trade foreign currencies. The complaint alleges Defendants violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) and Rule 10-b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act.

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SEC v. The Estate of Kenneth J. Casey is a case filed by the SEC in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on June 2, 2021, claiming that Kenneth Casey (“Casey”), the founder of Professional Financial Investors, Inc. (“PFI”), a real estate investment and management company, personally misappropriated over $10 million from investors as part of a scheme where Casey falsely told investors that their money would be used to invest in multi-unit residential and commercial real estate. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Casey violated 10(b) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. § 78j(b)] and Rule 10b-5, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. § 77q(a)].

According to the complaint, Casey’s fraudulent scheme began to unravel shortly after his death, when questions arose about the solvency of PFI and one of Casey’s other companies, PISF. The SEC had previously filed an action against the president of PFI for his role in a fraudulent scheme to misappropriate funds from investors.

Continue Reading New Complaint – SEC v. The Estate of Kenneth J. Casey