Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The SEC today charged a hedge fund investment advisory firm and its two founders with orchestrating a multi-faceted scheme to defraud clients and failing to comply with fiduciary obligations. According to the SEC, Eugenio Verzili and Arturo Rodriguez through their firm Juno Mother Earth Asset Management LLC misappropriated client assets, inflated assets under management, and filed false information with the SEC. Juno, Verzili and Rodriguez looted approximately $1.8 million of assets from a hedge fund they manage, misusing it to pay Juno’s operating costs related to payroll, rent, travel, meals, and entertainment. They issued promissory notes to conceal a substantial portion of their misappropriation. Juno, Verzili and Rodriguez also misrepresented the amount of capital that some Juno partners had invested in one of its funds, claiming they had invested millions of dollars when they actually had invested nothing in the funds.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Juno sold securities in client brokerage and commodity accounts and directed 41 separate transfers of cash to Juno’s bank account, claiming falsely that the transfers were reimbursements for expenses Juno had incurred on behalf of the client fund. Verzili and Rodriguez later fabricated and issued nine promissory notes to make it appear that the client fund had invested the money in Juno. But they concealed the so-called investment from the independent directors of the client fund.
The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and monetary penalties.