A Philadelphia-based former broker has admitted to fleecing investors out of more than $100 million through a Ponzi-like scheme involving her hedge fund.
The Department of Justice charged Brenda Smith in 2019 with operating a scheme involving, Broad Reach Capital, the fund she controlled, in which she falsely claimed that the fun was highly liquid and ran a robust risk management program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey says. Smith then sent investors documents showing positive returns when in fact the accounts were down, in at least one case by about 50%, according to prosecutors. When investors requested redemptions, Smith used other investors’ money, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.
In All, Smith raised more than $100 million from around 40 investors and transferred the bulk of the money to entities she controlled for “purposes inconsistent with the trading strategies,” including around $2 million spent on American Express credit card bills, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.
This week, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud, for which she faces up to 20 years in prison and an up to $5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Her sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2022, the office says.
Prior to Smith’s criminal charges, in August 2019, Securities and Exchange Commission charged her and her hedge fund with raising around $105 million from approximately 40 investors based on false representations. Last year, the SEC obtained an emergency asset freeze and preliminary injunction extending the freeze, according to the regulator.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred Smith in July 2019 for failing to respond to its requests for documents. She started in the industry in 2006, when she registered with Kildare Capital, and was registered with six firms over the years before being barred.
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