Litigation Release No. 25752/ June 23, 2023

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Michael Wayne Williams, Highguard Capital, LP, and Guardian Opportunity Management, LP, No. 1:23-cv-2774-SDG (N.D. Ga., filed June 21, 2023)

SEC Charges Former Georgia Investment Adviser in Multipart Offering Fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Michael Wayne Williams, an investment adviser formerly registered with the State of Georgia and currently residing in Miami, Florida, and two businesses controlled by him, Highguard Capital, LP, and Guardian Opportunity Management, LP, with conducting a multipart offering fraud.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that, between February 2016 and July 2017, Williams and Highguard Capital sold more than $1.8 million of securities interests to investors in Guardian Opportunity Management, which he described as the investment manager of Guardian Opportunity Fund, a private fund that he was starting.  The complaint further alleges that Williams fraudulently represented that investors’ money would be used to launch and grow the Guardian Opportunity Fund, but instead diverted a large portion of their invested funds to repay investors in three prior funds that he was closing.  The complaint also states that, between March 2016 and at least October 2022, Williams and Guardian Opportunity Management solicited and obtained at least $16 million from investors using false performance returns.  Finally, the complaint states that, in February 2021, Williams and Highguard Capital fraudulently sold over $1 million of securities interests in Guardian Opportunity Management to a Mississippi woman, telling her that the funds would be used to grow the Guardian Opportunity Fund when, in fact, Williams diverted her money to repay earlier Guardian Opportunity Management investors.

The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, charges Williams, Guardian Opportunity Management, and Highguard Capital, with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.  The complaint further charges Williams and Guardian Opportunity Management with violating Section 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder.  The SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties against each defendant.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Elizabeth P. Skola, Micheal D. Watson, and Tiffany B. Kunkle, and was supervised by Stephen E. Donahue and Justin C. Jeffries, all of the Atlanta Regional Office.  Terrence Moran of the Division of Examinations in the Chicago Regional Office and Howard Kaplan and Brian Shute of the Enforcement Division’s Office Investigative and Market Analytics assisted in the investigation.  The litigation will be led by Paul Kim and supervised by M. Graham Loomis.  The litigation is pending as to all parties.