Accused Hedge Fund Fraudster Hit With Asset Freeze

Feb 20 2009 | 1:08am ET

A federal judge has shut down a San Francisco hedge fund and frozen its assets.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery in Minneapolis issued a temporary restraining order against Crossroad Capital Management, principal John Lawton and its hedge fund, Paramount Partners.

The Securities and Exchange Commission sought the emergency order “to restrain them from continuing to engage in a fraudulent hedge fund scheme.” Lawton did not oppose the order, which also froze his assets, along with those of Crossroad and Paramount.

Earlier this week, the SEC sued Lawton, accusing him of lying to investors about the performance of his hedge fund, overstating its balance sheet to hide losses, defrauding investors of almost $16 million. Lawton has denied the charges.

According to the complaint, Lawton collected some $10.8 million from 54 investors between 2001 and 2008. He allegedly claimed the fund was returning between 19% and 65% annually, and had “only one losing year, 2004, in which Paramount supposedly lost approximately 5%.” On Dec. 31, Crossroad apparently sent investors documents claiming it managed $17 million.

In fact, according to the SEC, the fund was worth just $5.3 million at the end of last year, and is now worth just $1.3 million. The regulator said Lawton show it financial statements showing the missing $12 million in a brokerage account, but when it contacted the brokerage firm, the firm said the account had been closed in June.


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