The SEC and Massachusetts’ top securities watchdog have fined a Wellesley-based investment advisor and its owners $575,000 over failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
David Alexander Rourke, Sr. and Jarrod Andrew Sherman recommended that their Massachusetts clients at Strategic Planning Group purchase stock in Ecoark Holdings, an agriculture tech company based in Arkansas, investing up to 5% of their portfolios in the firm, according to a press release from the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin.
Rourke and Sherman both served as consultants to Ecoark at the time, the regulator says.
Additionally, Rourke — who owned 90% of SPG — had an $800,000 investment in Ecoark, while Sherman, SPG’s chief compliance officer, who owned 10% of the firm, invested around $300,000 in Ecoark, according to the press release.
Despite Rourke and Sherman having a financial incentive to invest their clients’ money in the stock to bolster or increase its price, SPG failed to disclose to investors the pair’s involvement with Ecoark, Galvin’s office says.
The Massachusetts Securities division censured the firm and ordered it to pay a $225,000 fine, according to the press release.
The SEC, meanwhile, ordered SPG to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 and Rourke and Sherman to each pay a civil penalty of $75,000, according to an administrative proceedings document published by the regulator.
Rourke and Sherman admitted the regulator’s findings, according to the SEC.