Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The SEC filed settled securities fraud charges against W.P. Carey & Co., a manager of real estate investment trusts (REITs), and two of W.P. Carey's senior executives for paying undisclosed compensation to a brokerage firm that sold the REITs to investors. W.P. Carey did not disclose the payments to the broker-dealer, as it was required to do in the REITs' offering documents, and misrepresented the payments in the REITs' periodic filings. The SEC complaint names as defendants W.P. Carey & Co.; John J. Park, formerly the chief financial officer of W.P. Carey, until yesterday a managing director of strategic planning at W.P. Carey and currently an employee in charge of strategic planning; Claude Fernandez, formerly the chief accounting officer and currently a managing director of W.P. Carey; and Carey Financial, LLC, a broker-dealer subsidiary of W.P. Carey.
To settle the SEC's charges, W.P. Carey agreed to pay approximately $30 million — approximately $20 million in disgorgement and interest and $10 million in penalties. Park's settlement includes a five-year bar from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and a $240,000 penalty. Fernandez's settlement includes a two-year suspension from appearing before the Commission as an accountant and a $75,000 penalty.