U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Litigation Release No. 21893 / March 22, 2011
Securities and Exchange Commission v. JSW Financial Inc., James S. Ward, David S. Lee, Edward G. Locker, Richard F. Tipton and David C. Lin, Case No. CV-11-1356 LB (N.D. Cal. filed Mar. 22, 2011)
SEC BRINGS FRAUD CHARGES IN SILICON VALLEY REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT SCHEME
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Mountain View, Calif.-based JSW Financial Inc. and five officers for defrauding investors in two real estate funds, alleging that the firm used investor funds to prop up the officers’ own failing real estate development projects while concealing the loss of $17 million of investors’ money.
The SEC alleges that from 2002 to 2008, JSW and its predecessor, Jim Ward & Associates (JWA), created two real estate investment funds – Blue Chip Realty Fund and Shoreline Investment Fund – and told investors that their money would be used to make loans secured by residential real estate. In reality, according to the SEC, the firms’ officers used most of the money to make unsecured and undocumented loans to entities that the officers themselves controlled, which were suffering mounting losses and protracted delays on Silicon Valley real estate development projects. Meanwhile, as the enterprise collapsed, investors continued receiving monthly statements showing steady growth in the value of their portfolios.
The SEC’s complaint, filed today in federal district court in San Francisco, names as defendants founder James S. Ward and Edward G. Locker (both of Ohio) and David S. Lee, Richard F. Tipton and David C. Lin (all Silicon Valley residents). The complaint alleges that JSW and JWA, through these individual officers, breached their fiduciary duties by misusing investors’ money to benefit the officers rather than the funds. The SEC also alleges that the officers concealed millions of dollars in losses from Blue Chip and Shoreline investors by sending fraudulent account statements claiming that the Funds were earning more than 10% in annual profits, until the scheme collapsed in November 2008 and the officers finally revealed to investors that nearly all of the Blue Chip and Shoreline loans were unsecured. The SEC also alleges that Ward and Locker together took $900,000 of investor money to purchase homes for themselves.
The SEC’s complaint charges JSW, Ward, Lee, Locker, Tipton and Lin with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The complaint also charges JSW with violating Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (Advisers Act) and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder, and charges Ward, Lee, Locker, Tipton and Lin with aiding and abetting violations of Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder. The SEC seeks injunctive relief and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains against JSW, Ward, Lee, Locker, Tipton and Lin, as well as monetary penalties against the five officers. The complaint also seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and appointment of a receiver over Blue Chip and Shoreline as relief defendants.