UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
LITIGATION RELEASE NO. 16699 / September 14, 2000
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION V. BERNARD TAALIB-DIN HASAN, a/k/a C. BERNARD CALDWELL, MARIA ELENA GONZALEZ, TDH UNLIMITED, INC. and UNALAT, INC., CIVIL ACTION NO. H-00-3179, (USDC/SDTX/Houston Division)
SEC FILES LAWSUIT IN AFFINITY INVESTMENT SCHEME THAT TARGETED THE HOUSTON HISPANIC COMMUNITY
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on September 13, 2000, it filed a civil lawsuit against Bernard Taalib-Din Hasan (a/k/a C. Bernard Caldwell) ("Hasan") and Maria Elena Gonzalez, in an affinity investment scheme that targeted the Houston Hispanic community through advertisements on Latino radio stations, seminars, and the Internet. According to the SEC's complaint, from 1993 through January 1998, Hasan and his common-law wife, Gonzalez, raised approximately $1.5 million from 223, mostly Hispanic, investors through their two companies, TDH Unlimited, Inc., and Unalat, Inc. Hasan and Gonzalez sold investments purportedly representing participation interests in overseas trading of rice, diamonds, and precious metals. The SEC alleges that, in connection with the offer and sale of these securities, Hasan and Gonzalez made numerous materially false and misleading statements to investors concerning the rate of return on the investment, the risks associated with the investment, and their receipt of undisclosed commissions. In May 1998, TDH and Unalat defaulted and ceased making any principal or interest payments to investors, resulting in investor losses of approximately $860,000.
The defendants in the SEC lawsuit are:
Bernard Taalib-Din Hasan (Hasan has also been known by the alias C. Bernard Caldwell) age 50, is a resident of Houston, Texas. Hasan and Gonzalez controlled TDH and Unalat at all relevant times.
Maria Elena Gonzalez, age 48, is a resident of League City, Texas. Hasan and Gonzalez were each indicted by Harris County Grand Jury in July 1999, on charges related to this investment scheme. They are currently being held in the Harris County jail.
TDH Unlimited, Inc., a Texas corporation with its principal place of business in Houston, Texas, was incorporated on July 27, 1989. TDH offers a variety of financial services to the Hispanic community. Hasan is TDH's president, and Hasan and Gonzalez are the controlling shareholders.
Unalat, Ltd., is an Antiguan company formed by Hasan and Gonzalez in 1996. Unalat is controlled by Hasan and Gonzalez and purportedly engaged in the "overseas trading" of rice, diamonds and precious metals.
In settlement of the SEC's charges, Hasan, Gonzalez, TDH and Unalat have consent to the entry of a final judgment enjoining them from future violations of the antifraud and broker-dealer registration provisions of the federal securities laws contained in Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Sections 10(b), 15(a)(1) and 15(c)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rules 10b-5 and 15c1-2 thereunder. The final judgment also orders the defendants to disgorge $857,686, plus $147,223 in prejudgment interest, but waives the payment of disgorgement and prejudgment interest and does not seek to impose a civil money penalty based upon their demonstrated financial inability to pay.
Investors are advised to read the SEC's "Affinity Fraud" Investor Alert which provides tips on how to avoid being a victim in an affinity fraud. The Affinity Fraud alert tells investors how to spot an affinity investment scam and describes actions taken by the Commission to stop such scams. The investor alert can be found on the SEC's web site, at www.sec.gov.