New York (HedgeCo.Net) – A Manhattan-based private equity manager, Lawrence E. Penn III and his firm Camelot Acquisitions Secondary Opportunities Management, have had their assets frozen in a case put forward by the SEC. Three entities and one other person were also implicated in the fraud.
The SEC alleges that Penn and his longtime acquaintance Altura S. Ewers concocted a sham due diligence arrangement where Penn used fund assets to pay fake fees to a front company controlled by Ewers. Instead of conducting any due diligence in connection with potential investments by Penn’s fund, Ewers’ company Ssecurion promptly kicked the money back to companies and accounts controlled by Penn so he could secretly spend investor funds for other purposes.
“Penn held himself out as an ultra-sophisticated and well-connected investor in the private equity world,” said Andrew M. Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “Behind the scenes, Penn disregarded his obligations to the fund’s investors and treated their assets as his own personal and professional slush fund.”
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Penn tapped into a network of public pension funds, high net worth individuals, and overseas investors to raise assets for his private equity fund Camelot Acquisitions Secondary Opportunities LP, which he started in early 2010. Penn eventually secured capital commitments of approximately $120 million. The fund is currently invested in growth-stage private companies that are seeking to go public.
The SEC alleges that Penn has diverted approximately $9.3 million in investor assets.
The SEC’s complaint charges Penn, two Camelot entities, Ewers, and Ssecurion with violating the antifraud, books and records, and registration application provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks final judgments that would require them to disgorge ill-gotten gains with interest, pay financial penalties, and be barred from future violations of the antifraud provisions of the securities laws. The SEC’s complaint also charges another company owned by Ewers – A Bighouse Photography and Film Studio LLC – as a relief defendant for the purposes of recovering investor funds it allegedly obtained in the scheme.
Editing by Alex Akesson
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