The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it has obtained a court order freezing the assets of a Georgia-based investment adviser who has apparently gone into hiding after orchestrating a $40 million investment fraud.
The SEC alleges that Aubrey Lee Price raised money from more than 100 investors living primarily in Georgia and Florida by selling shares in an unregistered investment fund (PFG) that he managed. Price purported to invest fund assets in traditional marketable securities, but he also made illiquid investments in South America real estate and a troubled South Georgia bank. In order to conceal mounting losses of investor funds, Price created bogus account statements with false account balances and returns that were provided to investors and bank regulators.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Price is believed to be a resident of Lowndes County in Georgia after moving from Manatee County, Fla.
The SEC alleges that Price began his scheme in 2008. According to PFG’s private placement memorandum, the investment objective was to achieve “positive total returns with low volatility” by investing in a variety of opportunities, including equity securities traded on the U.S. markets. A significant portion of PFG investor funds – approximately $36.9 million – was placed in a securities trading account at a broker-dealer. The trading account suffered massive trading losses and money was frequently wire-transferred to PFG’s operating bank account. Throughout the time during which PFG suffered trading losses, client account statements prepared by Price were made available to investors indicating fictitious amounts of assets and investment returns.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Price has sent a letter to some individuals dated June 2012 and titled “Confidential Confession For Regulators – PFG, LLC and PFGBI, LLC Summary.” In the 22-page letter, Price admits that he “falsified statements with false returns” in order to conceal between $20 million and $23 million in investor losses.
The SEC’s complaint charged Price and his related companies, PFG, LLC; PFGBI, LLC; Montgomery Asset Management, LLC (Florida); and Montgomery Asset Management, LLC (Georgia) with violations of Section 10(b) and of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and further charged Price and Montgomery Asset Management, LLC (Florida) with violations of Sections 206(1), (2) and (4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder.