New York (HedgeCo.Net) – The former president of a purported private equity real estate firm based in San Bernardino, Calif., has been charged with defrauding nearly 500 investors who purchased promissory notes under the false premise that they were secured by specific properties or other collateral.
The SEC alleges that Larry Polhill used his fund American Pacific Financial Corporation (APFC) to buy and sell real estate and distressed assets, and he offered investors the opportunity to invest in the company through unregistered notes that would yield them interest payments of 5 to 17 percent per year. However, the collateral that Polhill and APFC claimed made the investments secure was often non-existent.
The properties underlying the investments were sometimes even sold without notice to investors. When APFC eventually filed for bankruptcy, it named the investors as unsecured creditors who were owed nearly $160 million. None of Polhill’s investment offerings were registered with the SEC.
“Polhill falsely presented investment opportunities that were safe and reliable based on collateral that didn’t always exist, and his fraudulent misrepresentations left investors with nothing to show for their investments when APFC declared bankruptcy,” said Michele Wein Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.
Polhill agreed to settle the SEC’s charges and be barred from acting as the officer or director of any public company.
The SEC’s complaint charges Polhill with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act. Polhill has consented to the entry of an order that permanently enjoins him from violating these laws and permanently bars him from acting as an officer or director of any public company.
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