August 29, 2013

SEC Sanctions Portfolio Manager for Lying to Chief Compliance Officer

PM submitted false quarterly and annual reports, barred from the industry for 5 years

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Lying to your chief compliance officer? Far worse than lying to your spouse, at least in the eyes of the SEC.

The commission announced Tuesday that it had sanctioned a former portfolio manager at a Boulder, Colo.-based investment advisor for forging documents and misleading the firm’s chief compliance officer to conceal his failure to report personal trades.

An investigation found that Carl Johns of Louisville, Colo., failed to pre-clear or report several hundred securities trades in his personal accounts as required under the federal securities laws and the code of ethics at Boulder Investment Advisers (BIA).  Johns concealed the trades in quarterly and annual trading reports that he submitted to BIA by altering brokerage statements and other documents that he attached to those reports.  Johns later tried to conceal his misconduct by creating false documents that purported to be pre-trade approvals, and misled the firm’s chief compliance officer in her investigation into his improper trading.

To settle the SEC’s charges — which are the agency’s first under Rule 38a-1(c) of the Investment Company Act for misleading and obstructing a chief compliance officer — Johns agreed to pay more than $350,000 and be barred from the securities industry for at least five years.

“Securities industry professionals have an obligation to adhere to compliance policies, and they certainly must not interfere with the chief compliance officers who enforce those policies,” Julie Lutz, acting co-director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office, said in a statement.  “Johns set out to cover up his compliance failures by creating false documents and misleading his firm’s CCO.”

According to the SEC’s order, Johns submitted inaccurate quarterly and annual reports and falsely certified his annual compliance with the code of ethics. Johns physically altered brokerage statements, trade confirmations and pre-clearance approvals before submitting them to the firm along with these reports.  For example, he manually deleted securities holdings listed on his brokerage statements before submitting them in order to avoid disclosing securities purchases that were not pre-cleared.

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