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Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Monday, December 21, 2009

FINRA Fines Pacific Cornerstone Capital for Private Placement Violations

FINRA announced today that it fined Pacific Cornerstone Capital, Inc. and its former chief executive officer, Terry Roussel, a total of $750,000 for failing to include full and complete information in private placement offering documents and marketing material. FINRA also charged Pacific Cornerstone and Roussel with advertising violations and supervisory failures.  Pacific Cornerstone was fined $700,000 and agreed to make corrective disclosures to investors and to submit advertising and sales literature to FINRA for pre-use review for one year. Roussel was fined $50,000 and suspended in all capacities for 20 business days and in a principal capacity for an additional three months.

 From January 2004 to May 2009, Pacific Cornerstone sold private placements in two affiliated companies using offering documents and accompanying sales literature that contained targets as to when investors would receive the return of their principal investment and the yield on their investment. The offering documents included statements that the affiliated entities targeted returns of principal in two to four years and targeted a yield on a $100,000 investment in excess of 18 percent. FINRA found no reasonable basis for those statements.  Further, Pacific Cornerstone and Roussel continued to use a similar targeted time period for return of capital and rate of return in successive offering documents, although those targets were not supported by prior performance. FINRA also found that the offering documents failed to disclose the complete financial condition of one or both of the companies.

Pacific Cornerstone also offered private placement units of the two affiliated entities, Cornerstone Industrial Properties, LLC and CIP Leveraged Fund Advisors, LLC, to other broker-dealers and investment advisors, which in turn sold the units to the investing public. A total of approximately $50 million worth of units were sold to approximately 950 accredited investors over a period of almost six years. Pacific Cornerstone continued to use the same targeted two-to-four year return of principal and 18 percent rate of return in successive offering documents, despite not having met those targets.

During the same period, Roussel periodically sent letters to the private placement investors to update them on the progress of their investment that painted a positive — but unrealistic — future, without providing required risk disclosures. Roussel's letters also failed to disclose the complete financial picture of the two companies.

In concluding this settlement, the firm and Roussel neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.

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