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  • SEC Charges Former Executive at Tampa-Based Engineering Firm With FCPA Violations

    The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former officer at a Tampa, Fla.-based engineering and construction firm with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by offering and authorizing bribes and employment to foreign officials to secure Qatari government contracts. 

    The SEC also announced a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with The PBSJ Corporation that defers FCPA charges for a period of two years and requires the company to comply with certain undertakings.  PBSJ must immediately pay $3.4 million in financial remedies as part of the agreement, which reflects the company’s significant cooperation with the SEC investigation.   PBSJ is now known as The Atkins North America Holdings Corporation and no longer offers public stock in the U.S.

    An SEC investigation found that Walid Hatoum, who has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges, offered to funnel funds to a local company owned and controlled by a foreign official in order to secure two...

  • SEC Charges Investment Adviser and Manager in South Florida-Based Fraud

    The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based investment advisory firm, its manager, and three related funds in a scheme that raised more than $17 million since November 2013.

    The SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida last week charged Elm Tree Investment Advisors LLC, its founder and manager, Frederic Elm, and Elm Tree Investment Fund LP, Elm Tree “e”Conomy Fund LP, and Elm Tree Motion Opportunity LP.  According to the complaint, Elm, formerly known as Frederic Elmaleh, his unregistered investment advisory firm, and the three funds misled investors and used most of the money raised to make Ponzi-like payments to the investors.  The complaint alleges that Elm treated the funds as his personal piggy bank, tapping them to buy a $1.75 million home, luxury automobiles, and jewelry, and to cover daily living expenses.  Elm’s wife,...

  • Investment Management Director Norm Champ to Leave SEC

    The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Norm Champ, Director of the Division of Investment Management, will leave the agency later this month after five years serving in senior leadership positions.

    Mr. Champ played a key role in the SEC’s completion of landmark reforms in 2014 to strengthen the $3 trillion money market fund industry.  He also led numerous structural and policy changes at the agency and oversaw the Division of Investment Management during one of its busiest periods, receiving the Chair’s Award for Labor-Management Relations in both 2011 and 2014.   Mr. Champ also received the Chair’s Award for Law and Policy in those years, and the Chair’s Analytical Methods Award in 2013 for his work on policy issues. 

    “The Commission has benefited greatly from Norm’s expertise and sound judgment and we have been very fortunate to have had him work on behalf of U.S. investors and our markets,” said SEC...

  • SEC Announces Charges Against Standard & Poor’s for Fraudulent Ratings Misconduct

    The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a series of federal securities law violations by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services involving fraudulent misconduct in its ratings of certain commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS).

    S&P agreed to pay more than $58 million to settle the SEC’s charges, plus an additional $19 million to settle parallel cases announced today by the New York Attorney General’s office ($12 million) and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office ($7 million).

    “Investors rely on credit rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s to play it straight when rating complex securities like CMBS,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.  “But Standard & Poor’s elevated its own financial interests above investors by loosening its rating criteria to obtain business and then obscuring these changes from investors.  These enforcement actions, our first-ever against a major ratings firm, reflect our commitment to aggressively policing the integrity and transparency of...

  • SEC Announces Charges Against Attorneys and Auditors in Microcap Scheme Involving Purported Mining Companies

    The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against attorneys, auditors, and others allegedly involved in a microcap scheme the agency stifled last year when it suspended the registration statements of 20 purported mining companies being used for sham offerings of stock to investors.

    The SEC Enforcement Division alleges that a Canada-based attorney and stock promoter named John Briner orchestrated the scheme, which entailed creating shell companies supposedly exploring mining activities.  Briner had been suspended from practicing on behalf of entities regulated by the SEC, so he recruited clients and associates to become figurehead executive officers while he secretly controlled the companies from behind the scenes.  The registration statements falsely stated that each CEO was solely running the company when in fact Briner was making all material decisions.

    The SEC Enforcement Division further alleges that none of the companies had any intention of pursuing mining, and mineral claims purportedly owned by...

SEC Press Releases