The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained a court order freezing the assets of a Georgia-based investment advisor who has seemingly gone into hiding after he orchestrated a $40 million investment fraud.
The SEC alleges that Aubrey Lee Price raised money from more than 100 investors living primarily in Georgia and Florida by selling shares in an unregistered investment fund, PFG, which he managed. Price claimed he would invest the fund assets in traditional marketable securities, but he also made illiquid investments in real estate in South America and a troubled South Georgia bank. To conceal mounting losses in investor funds, Price created bogus account statements with false account balances and returns that were provided to investors and bank regulators.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Price is believed to be a resident of Lowndes County in Georgia after moving from Manatee County, Fla.
The SEC alleges that Price began his scheme in 2008. According to PFG’s private placement memorandum, the investment objective was to achieve “positive total returns with low volatility” by investing in a variety of opportunities, including equity securities traded on the U.S. markets. A significant portion of PFG investor funds—approximately $36.9 million—was placed in a securities trading account at a broker-dealer. The trading account suffered massive trading losses and money was frequently wire-transferred to PFG’s operating bank account. Throughout the time during which PFG suffered trading losses, client account statements prepared by Price were made available to investors indicating fictitious amounts of assets and investment returns.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Price has sent a letter to some individuals dated June 2012 and titled “Confidential Confession For Regulators – PFG, LLC and PFGBI, LLC Summary.” In the 22-page letter, Price admits that he “falsified statements with false returns” in order to conceal between $20 million and $23 million in investor losses.
The SEC’s complaint charged Price and his related companies, PFG, LLC; PFGBI, LLC; Montgomery Asset Management, LLC (Florida); and Montgomery Asset Management, LLC (Georgia) with violations of the securities laws.
Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order and entered an asset freeze for the benefit of investors against Price, PFG, and his affiliated entities. Judge Batten has scheduled a court hearing on July 13 for the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
Anyone with information about Price’s whereabouts should contact the Atlanta office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (404) 679-9000 or the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 671-2985.
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