U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Litigation Release No. 22129 / October 18, 2011
SEC v. Thomas L. Kivisto, Civil Action No. 11-CV-641-CVE, United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
SEC settles misrepresentation charges against SemGroup founder
On October 18, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thomas L. Kivisto of Tulsa, Oklahoma with misleading investors in SemGroup Energy Partners, L.P. (“SGLP”) about risks they faced from energy trading he was conducting at SGLP’s parent and largest customer, SemGroup, L.P. (“SemGroup”). Kivisto has agreed to settle these charges by consenting to injunctive relief, paying a $225,000 civil penalty and forfeiting rights to SGLP limited partnership units recently valued at approximately $1.1 million.
The Commission’s complaint, filed in United States District Court in Tulsa, alleges that Kivisto should have known that certain SGLP public filings he signed misled investors about the reliability of SGLP’s revenue stream and the risks SGLP faced from Kivisto’s energy trading. According to the complaint, SemGroup provided up to 89% of SGLP’s revenues and thus was critical to SGLP’s profitability. The SEC alleges that SGLP’s filings assured investors that this revenue stream was “stable and predictable” and protected from volatility in oil prices. The SEC contends, however, that Kivisto’s energy trading increasingly drained SemGroup’s credit facilities and other liquidity sources, jeopardizing its ability to fulfill its commitments to SGLP. Investors were never warned of these risks, according to the SEC.
The SEC alleges that these risks came to a head in July 2008, when SemGroup’s lenders cancelled the credit facility and SemGroup filed bankruptcy. After these events, the price of SGLP’s publicly traded limited partnership units declined more than 60%.
Privately held SemGroup, based in Tulsa, bought, transported and sold petroleum products. It also traded crude oil and related commodities and derivatives. Kivisto, who helped found the company and served as its CEO and president until its bankruptcy, managed SemGroup’s crude oil trading activities.
SGLP (now known as Blueknight Energy Partners, L.P.) went public in July 2007. SGLP primarily owned midstream oil and gas assets such as pipelines and storage facilities. Kivisto served as a director of SGLP’s general partner from its initial public offering until he resigned in July 2008. The Commission alleges that Kivisto signed certain misleading filings SGLP made with the SEC, including registration statements SGLP filed in July 2007 and February 2008 and its annual report on Form 10-K filed in March 2008.
Without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, Kivisto offered to settle by consenting to entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violating Sections 17(a)(2) and (3) of the Securities Act of 1933, ordering him to pay a $225,000 civil penalty, and requiring him to forfeit all claims to 150,000 SGLP units awarded under the company’s long term incentive plan.
The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the United States Commodities Futures Trading Commission.