Litigation Release No. 22214 / January 3, 2012
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Charles A. Aiken, et al., Civil Action No. CA 5:11-1018, United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia
SEC CHARGES CHARLES A. AIKEN AND AIKEN CONTINENTAL, L.L.C. WITH FRAUD IN THE OFFER AND SALE OF MUNICIPAL BONDS
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its filing of a civil injunctive action alleging fraud in the offer and sale of municipal bonds by Charles A. Aiken and his entity, Aiken Continental, L.L.C.
Filed December 29, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, the SEC’s complaint alleges that Aiken and Aiken Continental made material misrepresentations and omissions in connection with the 2006 offer and sale of $2.96 million of industrial development revenue bonds. Raleigh County, West Virginia issued the bonds in October 2006 to facilitate Aiken Continental’s acquisition of Continental Casket, Inc., a casket manufacturing facility located within its jurisdiction. Aiken formed Aiken Continental in August 2006 for the sole purpose of acquiring Continental Casket’s assets, and served as its sole principal.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Aiken concealed from key participants to the transaction, including the issuer, bond counsel, the underwriter, and the bondholders’ trustee, that he had been indicted for felony financial fraud in late 2005. Aiken also concealed the fact that he was in the process of negotiating a plea agreement just before the bonds were issued in October 2006, which included a term of imprisonment. In addition, Aiken failed to disclose material information about a $200,000 loan to Aiken and Aiken Continental from an entity partially owned by their attorney, in order to facilitate the closing of the transaction. This loan required a $100,000 interest payment, and gave the lender a twenty percent equity interest in Aiken Continental if the loan plus interest was not fully repaid within six months. Aiken’s failure to disclose details about his criminal proceeding and the loan rendered certain statements in the bonds’ Official Statement materially misleading. For example, one section of the Official Statement contained information about Aiken’s background, but failed to mention his felony indictment for financial fraud. Another section of the Official Statement contained projected financial statements for Aiken Continental, but failed to take into account the repayment of the $200,000 loan plus $100,000 interest. Aiken Continental supplied and authorized the use of information in the Official Statement. Aiken signed the Official Statement on behalf of Aiken Continental, and authorized it to be distributed to investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Aiken served 90 days in federal prison and 90 days of home detention in Georgia following the close of the transaction. Aiken’s six-month absence negatively affected the operations of the casket company and the Raleigh County bonds are now in default, with the entire principal amount and accrued interest due.
Based on this conduct, the SEC’s complaint alleges that Aiken and Aiken Continental violated Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5(b) thereunder. The SEC’s complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil money penalties.