Harbinger, SEC To Talk Settlement

Apr 12 2012 | 12:25pm ET

Dealing with the mess that is his hedge fund's massive investment in a seriously troubled wireless Internet company, Philip Falcone isn't ignoring the other potentially career-ending matter he faces.

Representatives from Falcone's Harbinger Capital Management are set to meet with the Securities and Exchange Commission next week to discuss the terms of a potential settlement over potential fraud charges the regulator is considering, The Wall Street Journal reports. The April 19 meeting—which Falcone will not attend—at the SEC's Washington, D.C., headquarters will be the first between the two sides since the SEC issued Wells notices, indicated a likely enforcement action, to Falcone and two deputies last year.

The talks follow Falcone's rejection last year of a settlement that included a multi-year ban from the securities industry. The question of a temporary ban is likely to be a crucial issue in the talks, as well as the amount the Harbinger executives will be asked to pay.

It is unclear what civil fraud charges the SEC is likely to pursue against Falcone, Omar Asali and Robin Roger. The regulator said it was looking into civil fraud charges stemming from several matters, among them possible manipulative trading in subprime mortgages from 2006 through 2008, a controversial $113 million loan Falcone took in 2009 to pay a tax bill, and allegations that Harbinger gave preferential treatment to some redeeming investors, including Goldman Sachs, also in 2009.

Harbinger suspended redemptions following the receipt of the Wells notices. The firm lost 47% last year due to the troubles facing its LightSquared wireless venture and another 29.6% this year, after the Federal Communications Commission all but pulled the plug on LightSquared's planned network due to concerns about interference with global positioning systems.

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