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Ponzi Schemes

April 17, 2010 | Bloomberg News
The Securities and Exchange Commission didn't conduct a meaningful probe of indicted money manager R. Allen Stanford until 2005, even though examiners suspected him of operating a Ponzi scheme eight years earlier, an internal report found. The agency's Fort Worth office did four reviews of Houston-based Stanford Financial Group Co. starting in 1997 and determined after each one that Stanford's purported returns on certificates of deposit were highly unlikely, SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz wrote in a report released Friday.
April 2, 2010 | Bloomberg News
Actor John Malkovich is seeking to recover $2.3 million from an account he had with the securities firm of Bernard Madoff, who conducted the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff's firm, in August approved a claim for $670,000 for the actor's pension plan and trust, more than $1.5 million short of the value of the securities in Malkovich's account listed on his November 2008 final statement, attorneys for the actor said in a filing Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.
December 17, 2009 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
A sentencing hearing is continuing this week for a San Juan Capistrano man convicted on 693 felony counts for defrauding more than 125 senior citizens out of their life savings in a Ponzi scheme. The proceeding began Friday for Jeffrey Gordon Butler, who was convicted in June of stealing more than $11 million from elderly investors through the illegal sale of unqualified promissory notes or stocks and filing false tax returns on his ill-gained profits, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.
December 12, 2009 | By Stuart Pfeifer
Federal prosecutors disclosed Friday that they were conducting a criminal investigation of Beverly Hills money manager Stanley Chais, who is accused of serving as the Southern California link to a Ponzi scheme operated by disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff. Assistant U.S. Atty. William J. Stellmach revealed the criminal investigation in a motion that sought to postpone for six months a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Chais in June. Stellmach said that proceedings in the SEC lawsuit, if not suspended, could interfere with an "ongoing, parallel criminal investigation" of Chais.
November 5, 2009 | Martin Zimmerman
A Westlake Village man was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for bilking California and Texas investors out of more than $44 million. Curtis D. Somoza and co-defendant Robert Coberly, also of Westlake Village, were accused of collecting $64 million from investors with guarantees of easy returns, and then using much of the money to buy luxury homes, cars, yachts and jewelry. "This was an orgy of self-indulgence," U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz said Tuesday before imposing the sentence on Somoza.
October 9, 2009 | Stuart Pfeifer
A bankruptcy judge in New York has frozen the assets of Beverly Hills money manager Stanley Chais, who is accused of funneling hundreds of millions of his clients' dollars to a Ponzi scheme operated by disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff. The order, signed Wednesday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, prohibits Chais from accessing funds held at Goldman Sachs, City National Bank or any other institution. The order stands until an Oct. 22 hearing, at which the freeze could be extended.
October 3, 2009 | Walter Hamilton
Four relatives of Bernard L. Madoff who worked at his investment firm either knew about his epic Ponzi scheme or should have known about it, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the government-appointed trustee liquidating the swindler's assets. The suit seeks to force Madoff's brother, two sons and niece to repay almost $200 million that they allegedly withdrew from the firm over the years to pay for luxury homes, swanky lifestyles and even a hair salon. The suit doesn't accuse the four -- Peter Madoff, the brother; sons Andrew and Mark; and niece Shana Madoff -- of direct involvement in Bernard Madoff's scheme.
September 29, 2009 | Stuart Pfeifer
In what federal prosecutors described as the longest sentence ever imposed for a financial crime in Southern California, a Riverside County man was sentenced today to 100 years in prison for operating a three-year Ponzi scheme that bilked investors of about $35 million. Richard Monroe Harkless, 65, who ran the scheme from 2000 to 2003 through a company he called MX Factors, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips in federal court in Riverside. In letters to the judge, victims of the massive scheme said they were forced to file for bankruptcy protection, put off medical operations or postpone retirement as a result of their losses.
September 23, 2009 | Stuart Pfeifer
Beverly Hills financial advisor Stanley Chais, accused of steering hundreds of millions in investor dollars to Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme, was sued this morning by California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks restitution for victims and at least $25 million in civil penalties. Chais operated three exclusive funds that offered returns of up to 25%. He told clients that he achieved the returns using a complex combination of derivatives, stock, currency and futures trading, Brown said.
September 15, 2009 | David Sarno, Peter Y. Hong and W.J. Hennigan
Moving to contain a public relations mess, Wells Fargo & Co. fired a top executive accused of using a bank-owned Malibu beach house to entertain her family and friends. Cheronda Guyton, a senior vice president responsible for commercial foreclosed properties, broke company rules barring personal use of bank property, Wells Fargo said in a statement Monday. The Times reported last week that Guyton had been spotted by neighbors spending time at the Malibu Colony home with her family this summer.
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