U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 19972 / January 19, 2007
SEC v. John M. Fife and Clarion Management, LLC, No. 07-C-0347 (N.D. Ill.) (Kennelly, J).
SEC Charges Chicago Hedge Fund Manager, John M. Fife, and Clarion Management, LLC With Fraud
On January 18, 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against John M. Fife (Fife) and Clarion Management, LLC (Clarion Management). The complaint alleges that in 2002 and 2003, Fife and Clarion Management engaged in a fraudulent scheme to purchase variable annuity contracts issued by the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company (Lincoln) for Clarion Capital, LP (Clarion Capital) in order to engage in market timing. Clarion Capital was a Chicago hedge fund formed to market time international mutual funds available through variable annuities. According to the complaint, at all relevant times, Fife controlled Clarion Capital and carried out the scheme through Clarion Management, the hedge fund's general partner and unregistered investment adviser. Fife, age 46, is a resident of Chicago, Illinois.
The complaint alleges that Fife and Clarion Management used deceptive tactics to purchase contracts and engage in market timing for the benefit of Clarion Capital. These tactics included using trusts and limited liability companies as nominee contract owners and beneficiaries to conceal Clarion Capital's financial interest in the variable annuity contracts. After the purchase of each contract, Fife and Clarion Management engaged in market timing until their activity was detected and restricted by Lincoln. The complaint also alleges that when Lincoln imposed certain trading restrictions, Fife and Clarion Management caused the trusts to surrender the contracts, and then used deceptive means to disguise the purchase of more variable annuity contracts, including using previously unused trusts and limited liability companies. Through this deception, the complaint alleges that Fife and Clarion Management made hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits for themselves at the expense of the other shareholders in the mutual funds.
The complaint alleges that Fife and Clarion Management violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The complaint also alleges that Fife violated Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act in his capacity as the control person of Clarion Management. The relief that the Commission is seeking includes disgorgement of Fife and Clarion Management's ill-gotten gains, plus prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty against Fife.