10 Charged In ‘Hedge Fund’ Kickback Scheme

Dec 11 2007 | 9:32am ET

If you’re planning to involve a hedge fund manager in a kickback scheme, it’s probably best to make sure he’s actually a hedge fund manager.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent posing as the head of a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based hedge fund called Fillmore Capital nabbed 10 insiders and promoters of publicly-traded companies in five kickback schemes in exchange for securities sales. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged 10 individuals, while the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami slapped six on them with criminal charges.

According to the SEC, in each case the FBI-agent-cum-phony-hedge-fund-manager told each mark that the kickback had to be kept secret because it violated his fiduciary obligations to the non-existent hedge fund and that he had set up a phony consulting company to accept the kickbacks. All, save one, actually paid the kickback.

“This case illustrates the Commission’s ability to work together with criminal authorities in creative ways to uncover fraudulent schemes and to protect our markets,” Linda Chatman Thomas, the head of the SEC’s enforcement division, said.

Some of the individuals hit by SEC charges include Vincent Cammarate and Rex Morden of Affinity Financial Group, William Haynes—who had already been enjoined from violating antifraud laws under an earlier $7 million offering fraud case—and Efrim Gjonbalaj of Real Asset Management, Mark Foglia of Western Financial Services, Virgil Williams, and Sean Sheehan.

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