Florida-Based Stock Promoter Charged with Lying to SEC Investigators
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that the subject of an enforcement inquiry in Florida has has been criminally charged for obstructing justice and lying to SEC investigators looking into his real estate securities offerings to investors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida has filed criminal charges against former broker and securities fraud recidivist Robert J. Vitale, who lives in Lauderdale-by-the Sea. According to the criminal information filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the SEC issued subpoenas to Vitale and his investment company Realty Acquisitions & Trust in order to identify investor funds and assets related to the securities offerings. The SEC investigators subpoenaed Vitale for all related bank records and took his sworn testimony.
The criminal information alleges that Vitale lied about the existence of two separate bank accounts that he did not disclose to the SEC. Specifically, Vitale deposited $100,000 into a bank account in Fort Lauderdale under the name of “B.L. Inc.” in the days preceding his testimony to SEC investigators in June 2012. Vitale then did not disclose the existence of the account to the SEC when asked under oath.
Vitale was previously charged by the SEC several years ago for participating in a pump-and-dump market manipulation scheme. Vitale later settled the charges in federal district court and was barred from the brokerage industry.
“Lying to SEC investigators undermines the very foundation of the public trust that investors place in our markets, and it violates criminal law as well,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Those who obstruct SEC investigations should realize they will ultimately be held accountable by criminal authorities who work so closely with us to rid the markets of securities law violators, particularly repeat offenders like Vitale. The SEC greatly appreciates the persistence of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in pursuing this case.”
The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida in this matter.