Former Oppenheimer Fund Manager Agrees to Settle Fraud Charges
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that a former Oppenheimer & Co. portfolio manager has agreed to be barred from the securities industry and pay a $100,000 penalty for making misrepresentations about the valuation of a fund consisting of other private equity funds.
The SEC announced administrative proceedings against Brian Williamson last August based on allegations that he disseminated information falsely claiming that the reported value of the fund’s largest investment came from the portfolio manager of the underlying fund. Williamson, who managed the fund of funds, actually had valued the investment himself at a significant markup to the value estimated by the underlying fund’s portfolio manager. Williamson sent marketing materials to potential fund investors reporting a misleading internal rate of return that failed to deduct the fund’s fees and expenses. Williamson also made false and misleading statements to investor consultants and others in an effort to cover up his fraud.
“Investors rely on truthful and complete disclosures about valuation methodologies and fund fees and expenses, especially when committing to a long-term private equity investment,” said Julie M. Riewe, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “Williamson misled prospective investors by marking up the fund’s interim valuations and concealing his role in enhancing its reported performance.”
Last year, Oppenheimer agreed to pay $2.8 million in a settlement of related charges.
The SEC’s order against Williamson finds that he willfully violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and Section 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8. Without admitting or denying the findings, Williamson consented to the order requiring him to pay a $100,000 penalty and barring him from associating with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent, or nationally recognized statistical rating organization for at least two years.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Panayiota K. Bougiamas, Joshua M. Newville, and Igor Rozenblit of the Asset Management Unit along with Jack Kaufman and Lisa Knoop of the New York Regional Office. The case was supervised by Valerie A. Szczepanik. The SEC’s litigation was handled by Mr. Kaufman, Mr. Newville, and Charu Chandrasekhar.