The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Matthew S. Hilliard of Dallas, Texas, and three companies he controlled, alleging they raised approximately $10million by selling fraudulent oil-and-gas investments.
According to the SEC's complaint, from July 2015 to June 2019, Hilliard and his companies, Hilliard Oil Ventures, Inc. a/k/a Delta Western Company, Hilliard Helium, LLC, and Hilliard Land and Energy Corp. (collectively, the "Hilliard Companies"), offered and sold interests in six oil-and-gas joint-ventures to 117 investors nationwide in unregistered securities offerings. The complaint alleges that he prepared and distributed documents to investors containing untrue and misleading statements about the Hilliard Companies' past performance, their revenue and production projections, and the use of offering proceeds. Hilliard also allegedly oversaw efforts to cold-call prospective investors across the country, and provided the sales staff written information about the ventures for use in the calls. According to the complaint, Hilliard improperly commingled investor funds in other accounts he controlled and used the money to pay unrelated expenses, including personal spending at restaurants, retail stores, gas stations, grocery stores, movie theaters, a liquor store, and cable-television and cell-phone providers.
The SEC's complaint, which was filed in federal court in Texas, charges Hilliard and the Hilliard Companies with violating the registration provisions of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 and the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. Without admitting or denying the charges, the defendants agreed to be enjoined from violating the charged provisions, to disgorge ill-gotten gains totaling $4,806,203, plus prejudgment interest totaling $310,760, and each to pay a civil penalty of $189,427. The settlements are subject to court approval.
The investigation was conducted by Robert C. Hannan, Carol Hahn, and Joseph Dugan, with litigation assistance by Jennifer Reece, and supervised by Eric Werner and Timothy McCole.