The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged three individuals and their affiliated entities with running a Ponzi-like scheme that raised over $1.7 billion from securities issued by a New York-based asset management firm and registered investment adviser, GPB Capital. The SEC also charged GPB Capital with violating the whistleblower protection laws.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that David Gentile, the owner and CEO of GPB Capital, and Jeffry Schneider, the owner of GPB Capital’s placement agent Ascendant Capital, lied to investors about the source of money used to make an 8% annualized distribution payment to investors. According to the complaint, these defendants along with Ascendant Alternative Strategies, which marketed GPB Capital’s investments, told investors that the distribution payments were paid exclusively with monies generated by GPB Capital’s portfolio companies. As alleged, GPB Capital actually used investor money to pay portions of the annualized 8% distribution payments. GPB Capital and Gentile with assistance from Jeffrey Lash, a former managing partner at GPB Capital, also allegedly manipulated the financial statements of certain limited partnership funds managed by GPB Capital to perpetuate the deception by giving the false appearance that the funds’ income was closer to generating sufficient income to cover the distribution payments than it actually was.
The SEC’s complaint says that GPB Capital and Ascendant Capital made misrepresentations to investors about millions of dollars in fees and other compensation received by Gentile and Schneider. The SEC also says that GPB Capital kept investors in the dark about the limited partnership funds’ true financial condition, failing to deliver audited financial statements and register two of its funds with the SEC. GPB Capital allegedly violated the whistleblower provisions of the securities laws by including language in termination and separation agreements that impeded individuals from coming forward to the SEC, and by retaliating against a known whistleblower.
The SEC’s complaint was filed in federal court for the Eastern District of New York and charges Gentile, Schneider, GPB Capital, Ascendant Alternative Strategies, and Ascendant Capital with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Lash with aiding and abetting certain of those violations. The complaint also charges GPB Capital and Gentile with violating the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and charges GPB Capital with violating the registration and whistleblower provisions of the Exchange Act and the Advisers Act’s custody and compliance rules. The complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and penalties.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers nationwide including SEC whistleblowers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 978-880-4758