New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Two Boston-area hedge fund managers were charged today with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Gabriel Bitran, 69, of Newton, a former professor and associate dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“MIT”) Sloan School of Business, and his son Marco Bitran, 39, of Brookline, a Harvard Business School graduate and money manager, were charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice in connection with their hedge fund businesses, GMB Capital Management and GMB Capital Partners. Both Gabriel and Marco Bitran have agreed to plead guilty to the charge.
It is alleged that from 2005 through 2011, Gabriel and Marco Bitran solicited and maintained investors in their hedge fund and investment advisory businesses with false claims that, for eight or more years, they had managed friends and family funds, delivering average annual returns between 16 and 23%, with no down years. The Bitrans falsely told investors that the money in GMB hedge funds would be invested according to a complex mathematical trading model developed by Gabriel Bitran and based upon his MIT research on optimal pricing theory. The Bitrans also routinely concealed from investors that certain of their hedge funds were simply “funds of funds,” that is, hedge funds in which values of investments are determined by the value of investments in other independently managed hedge funds, some of which were themselves broad-based funds of funds.
By means of their fraudulent representations, the Bitrans induced investors to entrust over $500 million to their businesses. From this money, the Bitrans paid themselves millions of dollars in management fees for managing the funds in which they had fraudulently induced people to invest.
In the fall of 2008, several of the Bitrans’ hedge funds had disastrous losses, resulting in investors losing 50–75% of their principal in many instances. Nonetheless, in the fall of 2008, as their funds were experiencing these losses, Gabriel and Marco Bitran redeemed approximately $12 million of their own money from these hedge funds, while deferring other investors’ requests for redemption. The Bitrans thereby extracted much of the value of their own investments while leaving other investors to suffer more losses as the funds’ values declined precipitously.
In January 2009, while investigating potential victims of the Madoff fraud, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) examiners learned of the Bitrans’ performance claims and asked for supporting documentation. In response, the Bitrans allegedly made false statements to the SEC examiners and provided fabricated records purporting to support their claimed actual trading performance.
As they did so, Gabriel and Marco Bitran acknowledged to each other that they had made false statements to investors and owed them restitution. In July 2009, Gabriel Bitran e-mailed Marco Bitran and discussed the fact that they had misled investors:
“We have mislead [sic] a lot of people with a range of statements that were incorrect simply to increase our income. . . . A person with the experience and knowledge of the financial sector and a veteran professor of MIT should not have engaged in this type of behavior. . . . I certainly do not blame you for everything that happened; we both share responsibility. . . . With [several named individuals] and probably a few others . . . we told them a story that was not true! . . . In my view you are discarding their anger as bad losers. This is not the whole story. They are not idiots, they know that they were mislead [sic]. The penalty for this type of action is Full [sic] restitution, which obviously we cannot afford.”
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