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Ex-DeVere CEO, Manager Fined for Misleading Clients

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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered final consent judgments against Benjamin Alderson, the former CEO of RIA DeVere USA, and Bradley Hamilton, a former manager at the firm, in connection with “material misstatements and omissions” that the Securities and Exchange Commission claimed they made to clients and prospective clients whom they recommended overseas pension transfers to, the SEC announced Friday.

The New York-based U.S. division of DeVere Group previously agreed to pay an $8 million civil penalty related to its failure to disclose conflicts of interest to its retail clients, the regulator said in 2018.

“Our company has not had operations in the U.S. since 2018,” a DeVere spokesman said Monday, adding: “Previously, the U.S. business reached a full and final agreement with the SEC consistent with our commitment to clients and in the interest of putting the matter behind us.”

Without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint, Alderson and Hamilton consented to the entry of the final judgments, which were filed Wednesday, the regulator said.

The final judgment against Alderson orders him to pay disgorgement of $265,000, prejudgment interest of $10,060, and a civil penalty of $125,000.

The final judgment against Hamilton orders him to pay disgorgement of $265,000, prejudgment interest of $10,060, and a civil penalty of $75,000.

In the SEC’s 2018 complaint against Alderson and Hamilton, filed the same day as a complaint against the firm, the SEC alleged that the defendants misled clients and prospective clients about the benefits of pension transfers while concealing material conflicts of interest, including the substantial compensation that they personally stood to receive.

The judgments provide that all amounts paid shall be combined with the fair fund created by In the Matter of deVere USA, Inc., the SEC noted.

In a related administrative proceeding, the SEC on July 9 issued an order permanently barring Alderson from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent or nationally recognized statistical rating organization, with the right to reapply after two years.