The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Monday that it has charged five individuals and four companies for illegally selling securities of Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC. Towards the end of 2017, Woodbridge went bankrupt and was charged by the US regulator for operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
The five individuals that were charged by the SEC are Barry M. Kornfeld, Ferne Kornfeld, Lynette M. Robbins, Andrew G. Costa, Albert D. Klager, and their companies. According to the statement from the securities watchdog, the accused were some of the top revenue producers for Woodbridge. Together they sold more than $243 million of its unregistered securities to more than 1,600 retail investors.
SEC Claims That the Individuals Made Millions in Commission
Complaints against the individuals claim they made millions of dollars in commissions on their sales of the illegal securities. This is despite the fact that they were not registered as broker-dealers and were therefore not allowed to sell securities in the first place. This was not the first charge for Kornfeld. According to the statement, Kornfeld’s actions violated a previous SEC order which prohibited him from acting as a broker.
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The latest charges are part of an ongoing investigation. They seek court-ordered injunctions, the return of the illegally-obtained interest and financial penalties against the Kornfelds, Costa, Klager and their companies.
From the defendants, Robbins and her company, Knowles Systems Inc. agreed to settle the charges in a separate action. However, she has not admitted nor denied the allegations. Nonetheless, she will return more than $1 million worth of alleged illegally-gained interest. Furthermore, Robbins will also pay a $100,000 civil penalty.
Commenting on the charges, Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office said: “the broker-dealer and securities registration provisions are vital protections for retail investors. Our actions allege the defendants, while not registered as broker-dealers, pocketed millions of dollars in unlawful commissions from their widespread sales of unregistered Woodbridge securities.”