SEC Obtains Emergency Relief Against Palm Beach, Florida, Hedge Funds for $81 Million Fraudulent Offerings
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Court Issues Restraining Orders, Asset Freezes and the Appointment of a Receiver Over Defendant Hedge Funds and Related Investment Advisers and Registered Broker-Dealer
Washington, D.C., March 3, 2005 The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that on March 2, 2005, it filed an emergency civil action to halt a massive fraud by a group of Palm Beach, Florida based hedge funds, their principals, their unregistered investment advisers, and an affiliated registered broker-dealer. The SEC’s enforcement action comes days after examiners from the Commission’s Miami office began an examination of the defendant registered broker-dealer. According to the SEC’s complaint, the defendants conducted a fraudulent scheme that has resulted in the loss of most, if not all, of the $81 million raised from investors.
The Commission’s complaint names many defendants for their roles in this hedge fund fraud. The complaint names K.L. Group, LLC, KL Florida, LLC and KL Triangulum Management, LLC, for their violations while acting as investment advisers to the hedge fund defendants. In addition, the complaint names the hedge funds, KL Group Fund, LLC, KL Financial Group Florida LLC, KL Financial Group DB Fund, LLC, KL Financial Group DC Fund, LLC, KL Financial Group IR Fund, LLC, and KL Triangulum Group Fund, LLC, as defendants. The complaint also names the principals of the investment advisers and hedge funds – Won Sok Lee (of Singer Island, Fla.), John Kim (of Jupiter, Florida), and Yung Bae Kim (of Irvine, Calif.) – as defendants. Finally, the Commission’s complaint names as a defendant Shoreland Trading LLC, an Irvine, California based broker-dealer that defendant Lee controlled and that conducted all of the trading for the various hedge funds.
Acting on the Commission’s request for emergency relief, Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach today issued temporary restraining orders, asset freezes and other relief against the defendants. The Court also appointed a receiver over all of the entities named in the Commission’s action.
The Commission’s complaint alleges that beginning as early as 1999 and continuing through February 2005 the hedge funds raised over $81 million from at least 250 investors by boasting of consistent above-market returns through trading in aggressive growth stocks. The investment advisers also sent false account statements to investors in at least one of the hedge funds that showed consistently high returns. In contrast to the statements made to investors, the hedge funds were suffering tremendous trading losses. Among other things, the SEC’s complaint alleges that:
- The defendants claimed to have had extraordinary success in obtaining profits for investors. Some offering documents claimed that the hedge funds had achieved annualized returns of 125% to 150% since their inception.
- The defendants used phony account statements to convince investors that the hedge funds were profitable.
- Contrary to defendant’s claims of profitable returns, only about $11 million remains of the more than $81 million that investors put into the hedge funds.
- The investment advisers and the individual defendants earned substantial fees from the hedge funds, in part from a performance commission fee that was typically 20% of the hedge funds’ profit.
David Nelson, Director of the Commission’s Southeast Regional Office in Miami said that “this fraud was fueled by brazen lies about the hedge funds’ investment track record. Our priorities now are to hold these defendants accountable and to return as much as we can to defrauded investors.”
In addition to the emergency relief obtained today, the Commission’s civil action is seeking, among other things, preliminary and permanent injunctions, and an order that the defendants disgorge ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest and pay civil money penalties.
For further information contact:
Regional Director, Southeast Regional Office
Glenn S. Gordon
Associate Regional Director (Enforcement), Southeast Regional Office
Ivan P. Harris
Assistant Regional Director (Enforcement), Southeast Regional Office
Additional materials: Litigation Release 19117