The Securities and Exchange Commission has sanctioned two investment advisory firms for impeding examinations conducted by SEC staff.
An SEC investigation found that Evens Barthelemy and his New York-based firm Barthelemy Group LLC misled SEC examiners by inflating the firm’s claimed assets under management (AUM) ten-fold in an apparent attempt to show that the firm was eligible for SEC registration. Another SEC investigation found that Seth Richard Freeman and his San Francisco-area firm EM Capital delayed nearly 18 months in producing books and records related to the firm’s mutual fund advisory business.
According to the SEC’s order against Barthelemy and his firm, when examiners asked for a list of client assets, Barthelemy misrepresented his firm’s AUM as $26.28 million instead of the actual $2.628 million. He downloaded client account balances from the firm’s online custodial platform onto a spreadsheet, and then manually moved the decimal points for each client one place to the right before providing it to the SEC staff. From July 2009 to early 2011, Barthelemy improperly registered Barthelemy Group with the SEC on the basis of the aspirational AUM that was 10 times higher than reality. Barthelemy Group, through Barthelemy’s actions as chief compliance officer, also failed to adopt reasonable compliance policies and procedures or to maintain required books and records concerning codes of ethics and providing the firm’s disclosure brochure to clients.
According to the SEC’s order issued today against Freeman and his firm, they failed to immediately furnish the required books and records upon request by SEC staff in December 2010. EM Capital and Freeman repeatedly promised to provide the records including financial statements, e-mails, and documents related to their management of a mutual fund. However, they did not fully comply until September 2012, months after learning that SEC staff was considering enforcement action against them.
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