SEC Charges Investment Adviser and Its Principals with Fraud

Litigation Release No. 25400 / May 27, 2022

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Cornerstone Acquisition & Management Company LLC, Derren Lee Geiger, and She Hwea Ngo, No. 3:22-cv-00765 (S.D. Cal. filed May 27, 2022)

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that it filed charges against previously registered Rancho Santa Fe, California investment adviser Cornerstone Acquisition & Management Company LLC ("Cornerstone"), its chief executive officer, portfolio manager, and chief compliance officer, Derren Lee Geiger, and its chief financial officer, She Hwea Ngo, for allegedly making false and misleading statements, committing other deceptive acts, and committing recordkeeping and compliance violations.

The SEC's complaint alleges that Cornerstone, Geiger, and Ngo engaged in a scheme to deceive investors in Cornerstone's private funds, including the Caritas Royalties Fund (Bermuda) Ltd. (the "Bermuda Fund"), which had U.S. tax-exempt and non-U.S. investors. The complaint alleges that their deceptive conduct included misstatements concerning the ownership of Cornerstone, the existence of collateral, and other material issues. The complaint also alleges that Cornerstone and Geiger failed to adopt and implement written compliance policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violations of the Advisers Act and that Cornerstone and Ngo created inaccurate books and records.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in San Diego, California, charges (i) Cornerstone, Geiger, and Ngo with violations of the antifraud provisions of Securities Act Section 17(a) and Exchange Act Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder; (ii) Cornerstone and Geiger with violations of Advisers Act Sections 206(4) and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder and 207; (iii) Cornerstone with violations of Advisers Act Sections 204 and Rule 204-2 thereunder and 206(4) and Rule 206(4)-7 thereunder; (iv) Geiger with aiding and abetting Cornerstone's violations of Advisers Act Section 206(4) and Rule 206(4)-7 thereunder; and (v) Ngo with aiding and abetting Cornerstone's and Geiger's Advisers Act violations except for Advisers Act Section 206 and Rule 206(4)-7 thereunder. The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties against all defendants.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Marilyn B. Ampolsk of the Asset Management Unit and Laura K. Bennett, and supervised by Virginia M. Rosado Desilets of the Asset Management Unit, with assistance from Gary L. Peters. The litigation will be led by Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel James E. Smith and supervised by James M. Carlson. The examination that led to the investigation was conducted by Nick Mead, Anirban Ganguly, Niya Vyas, and Daniel Jung of the Division of Examinations in the Los Angeles Regional Office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Bermuda Monetary Authority.