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Manager Gets 24 Years In Hedge Fund Fraud Case

New York  (HedgeCo.net) – Hedge fund manager Won Sok Lee was sentenced this week by Judge Kenneth Ryskamp on wire fraud charges for his participation in a massive hedge fund fraud scheme, according to the Miami FBI.

Lee was sentenced to 298 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to pay over $78 million in restitution.

In December 2006, Won Sok Lee, Jung Kim, and Yung Bae Kim were indicted on charges that they orchestrated a massive investment fraud in the operation of various hedge funds under the umbrella of the KL Group, LLC, initially in California and later in Palm Beach County.

According to the Indictment, documents filed with the court, and statements made during the plea hearings, the defendants used quarterly mailings and website postings to misrepresent to investors that the KL Financial Group was a hugely successful family of hedge funds. In fact, however, the KL funds lost millions of dollars, and, in Ponzi scheme fashion, used new investors’ monies to make payments owed to previous investors. From 2000 through 2005, KL received approximately $194 million in investor funds.

Also charged in the Indictment were three hedge fund advisor companies that were owned and controlled by the individual defendants: KL Group, LLC, KL Triangulum Management, LLC, and Shoreland Trading, LLC. The companies pled guilty in July 2007 to participating in the investment fraud conspiracy.

Defendant Won Lee remained a fugitive from December 2006 until early 2009. In 2009, federal authorities located Won Lee in South Korea. He was extradited to South Florida in April 2009 to face the federal charges pending against him. Won Lee admitted lying to investors to induce them to invest in the hedge funds and to keep their monies invested or to reinvest in different hedge funds.

The misrepresentations included false statements about the soundness and performance of particular funds. Victims were told that the funds were profitable, when in fact, none were. Lee also admitted his complicity in creating counterfeit clearing firm statements that were used to perpetrate and conceal the scheme.

In addition, Lee admitted lying to a clearing house about the origin of monies used to buy and sell stocks cleared through Penson, a Texas-based clearing firm. Lee also admitted to creating fictitious stock trading sheets, which were used to show a one-day profit of $22 million in a stock known as RIMM, the company that manufactures the popular “Blackberry” device. The RIMM trade, however, never took place, and the fictitious stock trading sheets were used to fool investors concerning the profitable trades being conducted by the KL hedge funds.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Carlton and Edward Nucci.

Editing by Alex Akesson
For HedgeCo.net
alex@hedgeco.net
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