On February 4, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it charged three people and their affiliated entities with running a “Ponzi-like scheme” that raised more than $1.7 billion by selling private placements issued by alternative asset management firm GPB Capital Holdings.
Silver Law Group represents investors in claims against the broker-dealers who sold GPB to investors. Claims to recover investment losses allege that the broker-dealers failed to conduct adequate due diligence on the investment, among other causes. Our securities fraud attorneys have already filed multiple FINRA arbitration claims.
Silver Law Group reportedly filed the first GPB-related stockbroker arbitration claim in 2019. Since that time, our attorneys have recovered substantial damages for investors around the country. The SEC action further demonstrates the gross misconduct allegedly at GPB and although most brokerage firms refused to sell GPB, investors have alleged that the selling brokerage firms failed to do adequate due diligence or turned a blind eye to red flags because GPB paid substantial commissions to the selling stockbrokers.
SEC Alleges GPB Lied To Investors
The complaint filed by the SEC in U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York alleges that David Gentile, CEO of GPB Capital, and Jeffry Schneider, owner of GPB’s placement agent Ascendant Capital, lied to investors about where the money used to pay 8% annual distribution payments to investors was coming from.
The SEC alleges that the defendants and Ascendant Alternative Strategies told investors that their distribution payments were coming entirely from profits from GPB’s companies, but that some of the money was actually coming from other investors, which is the definition of a Ponzi scheme.
Richard Best, SEC New York Regional Office director is quoted in the release, “As alleged in our complaint, the defendants told investors that they would be paid distributions from profits of the portfolio companies when, in reality, many of the payments were being made from the investors’ own funds.”
GPB had previously been accused of being a Ponzi scheme by investors who filed lawsuits against the company to recover their losses. Now that the government is alleging the same, investors stuck holding illiquid GPB private placements have little hope that the company will recover.
The SEC’s complaint gives insight into how GPB was able to pull off its alleged deception:
“GPB Capital and Gentile with assistance from Jeffrey Lash, a former managing partner at GPB Capital, also allegedly manipulated the financial statements of certain limited partnership funds managed by GPB Capital to perpetuate the deception by giving the false appearance that the funds’ income was closer to generating sufficient income to cover the distribution payments than it actually was.”
The complaint goes on to accuse GPB and Ascendant Capital of making misrepresentations to investors about millions of dollars in fees and compensation paid to Gentile and Schneider. The deception was made possible in part because GPB didn’t provide audited financial statements and wasn’t honest with investors about its financial condition, according to the SEC.
The SEC also alleges that GPB violated whistleblower protection laws by retaliating against a whistleblower and preventing people from going to the SEC with information.
The SEC’s complaint seeks “disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties”.
Silver Law Group Filed its First Investor Arbitration Claim in 2019 Relating to GPB Capital Holdings
The announcement about SEC charges against GPB is the culmination of years of bad news and uncertainty for investors. Founded in 2013, GPB used dozens of broker-dealers across the country to sell private placements to investors. The firm used the money it raised to buy income-producing companies such as auto dealerships and a waste management business.
The 8% annual distribution payment GPB paid was attractive to investors, but those payments stopped in 2018. GPB’s chief compliance officer was indicted in 2019. Also in 2019, GPB reported that the value of its funds was down significantly.
As much as 12% of the money an investor put into GPB was paid to brokers and the broker-dealers they worked for in the form of commissions and fees. Motivated by money, brokers allegedly pushed the unsuitable GPB investments onto clients, in some cases overconcentrating their portfolios in GPB. It is currently unknown how much, if any, of investors’ principal will be returned to the victims, which include thousands of retirees and other small investors.
Recovering GPB Capital Holdings Losses Through FINRA Arbitration
Broker-dealers are supposed to recommend only suitable investments to their clients and perform due diligence on the products they sell. FINRA-registered brokers and firms are subject to arbitration to resolve disputes.
Silver Law Group represents investors who have been the victims of investment fraud. Scott Silver is the chairman of the Securities and Financial Fraud Group of the American Association of Justice and represents investors nationwide in securities and investment fraud cases. Please contact Scott Silver of Silver Law Group for a no-cost consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at (800) 975-4345.