An unregistered broker agreed to pay $600,000 to settle charges that he sold third party investments without disclosing numerous red flags and negative facts to potential investors. According to the SEC, the respondent painted an overly rosy picture of the investments (ultimately Ponzi schemes) and the sponsor by highlighting consistent rates of return and a personal business relationship. However, the respondent did not disclose that the sponsor had previous issues with the SEC, multiple failed investments schemes, and financial problems. The SEC argues that once the respondent described the investments in a positive way, he “was under a duty to make materially fair and complete disclosure rather than presenting only a one-sided and unbalanced view of the investment.” The SEC charges the unregistered broker with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act.
When selling investment products, you cannot merely disclose the good facts. In this case, the respondent may not (or may) have known the investments were Ponzi schemes, but he did have enough facts to suspect and should have warned potential investors.