Closed Meeting - Tuesday, February 26, 2008 - 2:00 p.m.
The subject matter of the closed meeting scheduled for February 26 will be: Institution and settlement of injunctive actions; and Institution and settlement of administrative proceedings of an enforcement nature.
Closed Meeting - Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 10:00 a.m.
The subject matter of the closed meeting scheduled for February 27 will be: Formal orders of investigation; Institution and settlement of injunctive actions; Institution and settlement of administrative proceedings of an enforcement nature; and a Regulatory matter regarding a financial institution.
At times, changes in Commission priorities require alterations in the scheduling of meeting items. For further information and to ascertain what, if any, matters have been added, deleted or postponed, please contact: The Office of the Secretary at (202) 551-5400.
Notice of Proposed Distribution Plan and Opportunity for Comment in the Matter of American Express Financial Advisors Inc., (Now Known As Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.)
On February 15, the Commission gave notice that, pursuant to Rule 1103 of the Commission's Rules of Practice, American Express Financial Advisors Inc., now known as Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise), with the approval of the Independent Distribution Consultant, has filed its proposed Distribution Plan for the distribution of monies placed into a Fair Fund pursuant to Section 308(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in the Matter of American Express Financial Advisors Inc., (now known as Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.), Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-12115. The Distribution Plan generally provides for distribution of the $30 million in disgorgement, prejudgment interest and civil penalties paid by Ameriprise in the Commission's action against it to all eligible customers of Ameriprise who purchased shares in Preferred Provider and Select Group program family funds from Jan. 1, 2001 through Aug. 31, 2004.
Any interested persons may print a copy of the proposed Distribution Plan from the Commission's public website, http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/, and Ameriprise's public website, www.ameriprise.com. Interested persons may also obtain a copy of the proposed Distribution Plan by submitting a written request to Junaid A. Zubairi, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Chicago Regional Office, 175 West Jackson Boulevard, Suite 900, Chicago, Illinois 60604.
All persons desiring to comment on the Distribution Plan may submit their views, in writing, by no later than March 17, 2008, to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20549-1090, or by using the Commission's Internet comment form (http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin.shtml), or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include "Administrative Proceeding File Number 3-12115" on the subject line of any electronic filing. Comments received will be publicly available. Persons should only submit information that they wish to make publicly available. For further information see Rels. 33-8637; 34-52861; File No. 3-12115; Press Rel. 2005-168. (Rel. 34-57341; File No. 3-12115)
Commission Revokes Registrations of Securities of Three Issuers for Failure to Make Required Periodic Filings
On February 19, the Commission instituted and settled separate administrative proceeding pursuant to Section 12(j) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) revoking the registration of each class of registered securities of each of the following issuers for failure to make required periodic filings with the Commission (ticker symbols provided where available).
Without admitting or denying the findings of the order pertaining to that issuer, except as to jurisdiction, which each admitted, each of the foregoing issuers separately consented to the entry of an order pertaining to that issuer finding that it had failed to comply with Exchange Act Section 13(a) and Rules 13a-1 and 13a-13 thereunder and revoking the registration of each class of the issuer's securities pursuant to Exchange Act Section 12(j).
Brokers and dealers should be alert to the fact that Exchange Act Section 12(j) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
No member of a national securities exchange, broker, or dealer shall make use of the mails or any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce to effect any transaction in, or to induce the purchase or sale of, any security the registration of which has been and is suspended or revoked . . . .
(In the Matter of Azur International, Inc. - Rel. 34-57344, File No. 3-12960; In the Matter of Enova Holdings, Inc. - Rel. 34-57345, File No. 3-12961; In the Matter of Greater China Corp. Rel. 34-57346, File No. 3-12962)
SEC Charges Three Individuals Associated with Mutual Benefits Corp. Fraud
The Commission announced today that it filed complaints against Defendants Ameer Khan, Raquel Kohler and Stephen Ziegler in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida charging them with violations of the federal securities laws arising from their involvement in Mutual Benefits Corp.'s (Mutual Benefits) offering fraud which raised more than $1 billion from approximately 30,000 investors. Khan served as the titular president and sole shareholder of Viatical Services, Inc., a purportedly independent company that claimed to track policies sold to Mutual Benefits' investors. Kohler was the former chief financial officer of Mutual Benefits and is a licensed certified public accountant. Ziegler served as Mutual Benefits' regulatory counsel.
The Commission's complaints charge Khan and Kohler with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and further charge Kahn with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933.
The Commission's complaint against Ziegler charges him with aiding and abetting Mutual Benefits' violations of Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 under the Exchange Act. The Commission seeks permanent injunctive relief against all three defendants. Khan and Kohler have consented to the entry of Final Judgments providing for full injunctive relief.
In addition to the civil actions against the defendants, on February 15, the Commission also issued Orders of Suspension pursuant to Rule 102(e)(2) of the Commission's Rules of Practice forthwith suspending Kohler and Ziegler from appearing or practicing before the Commission, based on the entries of a felony conviction against each of them. [SEC v. Ameer Khan, Case No. 08-60221-CIV-Graham (S. D. Fla.); SEC v. Raquel Kohler, Case No.-08-60219-CIV-Dimitrouleas (S. D. Fla.); SEC v. Stephen Ziegler, Case No. 08-60220-CIV-Seitz (S. D. Fla.)] (LR-20459)
SEC Charges Former Refco CEO Phillip R. Bennett with Orchestrating Refco Fraud
The Commission today filed a civil injunctive action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Phillip R. Bennett, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Refco Inc. and its corporate predecessor, Refco Group Ltd. (together, Refco). The Commission's complaint alleges that Bennett orchestrated a scheme that periodically concealed hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Refco by a private entity that Bennett controlled. The public revelation of Bennett's scheme in October 2005, two months after the company's initial public offering of common stock, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to Refco shareholders. The complaint also alleges that Bennett directed practices that artificially inflated Refco's financial results. As a result, the complaint alleges, Bennett violated the antifraud, books and records, and certification provisions of the federal securities laws and aided and abetted Refco's violations of the books and records, internal controls, periodic reporting, and certification provisions. The complaint seeks a permanent injunction enjoining Bennett from violating or aiding and abetting violations of those provisions, payment by Bennett of unjust enrichment that he received as a result of his actions, with prejudgment interest thereon, and imposition of civil money penalties.
In a related action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced on Feb. 15, 2008, that Bennett has pleaded guilty to all twenty counts of a superseding indictment previously returned against him and charging him with conspiracy, securities fraud, making false filings with the Commission, wire fraud, making false statements to Refco's auditors, bank fraud, and money laundering, for his actions in connection with the Refco fraud. [SEC v. Phillip R. Bennett, Civil Action No. 08 CV 1631 (GEL), USDC, SDNY] (LR-20460; AAE Rel. 2788)
ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS
An inaccurate 3- file number was included in the February 15th issue of the Digest in an article entitled "In the Matter of Peter Dawson". The correct number is File No. 3-12963.
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