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

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

SEC Charges New York Investment Firms with Fraud

The SEC today charged three affiliated New York-based investment firms and four former senior officers with fraud, misuse of client assets, and other securities laws violations involving their $66 million advisory business.  The SEC alleges that the operation’s investment adviser William Landberg and president Kevin Kramer — through the firms West End Financial Advisors LLC (WEFA), West End Capital Management LLC (WECM), and Sentinel Investment Management Corporation — misled investors into believing that their money was in stable, safe investments designed to provide steady streams of income. However, in reality West End faced deepening financial problems stemming from Landberg’s failed investment strategies. When starved for cash to meet obligations of the West End funds or for his personal needs, Landberg misused investor assets, fraudulently obtained more than $8.5 million from a bank, and used millions of dollars from an interest reserve account for unauthorized purposes.  According to the SEC, the misconduct occurred from at least January 2008 to May 2009.

The SEC also charged West End’s chief financial officer Steven Gould and controller Janis Barsuk for their roles in the scheme.

 The SEC charged Landberg, Kramer, Gould, WEFA, WECM, and Sentinel with violations of the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. In addition, Landberg, WEFA, WECM, and Sentinel are charged with violating the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Kramer, Gould, and Barsuk are charged with aiding and abetting violations of the Advisers Act. Barsuk is also charged with aiding and abetting violations of the antifraud provisions of the Exchange Act. The SEC seeks to enjoin each defendant from future violations of the securities laws as well as monetary relief, the imposition of an independent monitor, and certain other sanctions.

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