Thursday, March 30, 2006
Kirk Wright, the CEO of International Management Associates (IMA) and manager of hedge funds that purportedly had assets of $180 million, was charged in a sealed criminal complaint with one count of mail fraud. An arrest warrant was issued for Wright on March 10, and he is a fugitive. Problems at IMA first surfaced in December 2005 when a group of former NFL players who invested in Wright's hedge funds accused the firm of fraud when they were unable to withdraw their funds. Wright marketed the funds to a number of African-American professionals in the Atlanta area, and more recently began attracting money from NFL players. The government has only been able to find $150,000 in IMA's accounts, a far cry from the millions of dollars it told clients it had under management.
The specific fraud charge involves a falsified account statement mailed to former All-Pro safety Steve Atwater, one of the NFL player investors. If Wright is located and arrested, a grand jury will indict him on a wider array of charges because a number of investors received similar account statements. While Wright has an attorney, he has not been seen since January, nor has the money surfaced yet. A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia (here) discusses the charge and the government's attempt to arrest Wright. (ph)