Securities Law Prof Blog

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

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

SEC Obtains Asset Freeze in $485 Million Ponzi Scheme

On December 3, 2009, the SEC obtained a temporary restraining order and emergency asset freeze against Joseph S. Blimline relating to his involvement in a $485 million offering fraud and Ponzi scheme. The scheme was orchestrated by Joseph S. Blimline, Paul R. Melbye, Brendan W. Coughlin and Henry D. Harrison through a company they owned and controlled, Provident Royalties LLC. The Commission had previously filed a complaint against Melbye, Coughlin and Harrison and on July 7, 2009, obtained a temporary restraining order, asset freeze and appointment of a receiver with respect to those defendants. In addition to the asset freeze against Blimline, the court has extended the authority of the receiver over the newly-frozen assets.

The Commission alleges in its amended complaint that Provident advanced approximately $93 million of investor funds to Blimline and entities he controlled. The funds were for the purported purchase of oil and gas interests, or loans, to which Provident often never received title or repayment. The amended complaint also alleges that in presentations to investors and representatives of broker-dealers marketing Provident securities, Blimline failed to disclose his receipt of such funds, his involvement in the management of Provident and a prior sanction imposed against him by the Michigan securities authorities for prior conduct.

The Commission's amended complaint charges the defendants with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The amended complaint seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and financial penalties. Officer and director bars are sought against Blimline, Melbye, Harrison and Coughlin. An additional 36 affiliated entities that did not sell securities are named as relief defendants in the amended complaint for purposes of disgorgement.

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