Accountant Charged for Aiding and Abetting a $110 Million Ponzi Scheme

(HedgeCo.Net) The Securities and Exchange Commission files charges against William V. Conn, Jr., a certified public accountant of Sandy Springs, Georgia, for participating in a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by John Woods using an investment fund Woods created and controlled, Horizon Private Equity, III, LLC (“Horizon III”). The SEC also charged Conn with conducting a fraudulent scheme through a different investment fund he formed and controlled, Horizon Private Equity, LLC (“Horizon I”).

According to the Complaint, between 2007 and 2021, Conn agreed to serve as the public-facing manager of Horizon III, so Woods could perpetrate a Ponzi scheme that raised more than $110 million from over 400 investors without being detected by the investment adviser firm at which he was employed. In August 2021, the SEC charged Woods with multiple counts of securities fraud based on his role in orchestrating the Horizon III Ponzi scheme. The Complaint also alleges that, between 2008 and 2022, Conn solicited 21 of his accounting clients to invest nearly $2 million in his investment fund, Horizon I. Initially, Conn represented that the money would be invested in selected hedge funds. Ultimately, however, Conn allegedly misappropriated and misused the investor funds to support his accounting business, pay personal expenses, and pay expenses related to a failed real-estate project.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in the United Stated District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, charges Conn with violating the antifraud provisions of Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. Additionally, the Complaint charges Conn with aiding and abetting Woods, and the two entities he controlled, in previously charged violations of the antifraud provisions of Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Advisers Act, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The Complaint against Conn seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

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