U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 18513 / December 18, 2003
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION v. GLOBAL EXPRESS CAPITAL REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT FUND I, LLC; GLOBAL EXPRESS CAPITAL MORTGAGE CORP.; GLOBAL EXPRESS SECURITIES, INC.; CONNIE S. FARRIS; and DAWN M. REESE Civil Action No. CV-S-03-1514-KJD (LRL) (D. Nev.)
COURT ISSUES PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION IN CONNECTION WITH $48 MILLION SECURITIES FRAUD
The Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") announced that on December 17, 2003, the Honorable Kent J. Dawson, United States District Judge for the District of Nevada, issued a preliminary injunction in connection with a $48 million Ponzi-like investment scheme that had been operated by Connie S. Farris, age 59, of Henderson, Nevada; Dawn M. Reese, age 45, of Las Vegas, Nevada; and three entities owned or controlled by Farris: Global Express Capital Real Estate Investment Fund I, LLC (the "Fund"), Global Express Capital Mortgage Corp. ("GECM"), and Global Express Securities, Inc. ("GE Securities"), a Las Vegas-based broker-dealer. The Court: (1) granted the Commission's request for a preliminary injunction; (2) appointed a permanent receiver; (3) continued a freeze on certain defendants' assets; (4) prohibited the destruction of documents by the defendants; and (5) ordered accountings from the defendants.
The Fund is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. GECM, which is headquartered in Billings, Montana, was the sole manager of the Fund and was responsible for all of the Fund's activities. GE Securities, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, is registered with the Commission as a broker-dealer. It offered and sold investments in the Fund; it did not offer or sell any other securities. Farris, through a holding company, is the sole shareholder of GECM and GE Securities. She also is the sole officer and director of GECM. Reese is the president of GE Securities.
The Commission's complaint alleges that, beginning in late 2001, the defendants offered and sold interests in the Fund, which purported to pool investor funds to purchase interests in mortgage loans and trust deeds and to pay regular monthly returns to investors from the interest earned from the Fund's investments. Prior to being temporarily enjoined on December 4, 2003, the Fund raised at least $48 million from about 600 investors nationwide. The defendants promised, and actually paid to investors, a return on their investments equal to at least 12% annually. The complaint alleges that, contrary to the defendants' representations, the Fund was not generating sufficient interest income to pay the monthly distributions it was making to investors and, in fact, was operating as a Ponzi-like investment scheme. The defendants were funding the monthly investor distributions with cash from new investors as well as with capital contributions from Farris and GECM and proceeds from the sale of non-cash assets of the Fund. In addition, the complaint alleges that the Fund, aided and abetted by Farris, filed with the Commission materially false and misleading quarterly reports that misrepresented the financial condition of the Fund.
The Commission obtained a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendants from committing securities fraud in violation of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The order also preliminarily enjoins GE Securities from committing securities fraud in violation of Section 15(c) of the Exchange Act. The order further preliminarily enjoins the Fund from violating, and Farris from aiding and abetting violations of, the reporting requirements of Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act and Rules 12b-20 and 15d-13 thereunder, and preliminarily enjoins Farris from violating the certification requirements of Rule 15d-14 under the Exchange Act. The Court also ordered a continued freeze on the assets of the Fund, GECM and GE Securities and appointed James H. Donell as a permanent receiver over each of the entities.
In addition to the preliminary relief granted by the Court, the Commission seeks a final judgment against the defendants enjoining them from future violations of the foregoing antifraud, reporting and certification provisions, ordering them to disgorge all ill-gotten gains, and assessing civil penalties against them. The Commission also seeks an order prohibiting Farris from acting as an officer or director of any public company.