Two Texas men defrauded investors of some $19.5 million by faking bank records to show that their business, Global One, achieved annual returns of more than 23 percent in foreign exchange trading, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday.
The SEC said it obtained an emergency court order freezing the assets of Texas A&M finance professor Robert D. Watson and Houston lawyer Daniel Petroski.
Petroski's lawyer was not immediately available for comment. Watson could not be reached for comment.
Global One was founded in 2006 by the two men, who registered it as a corporation in Panama and raised at least $19.5 million from more than 60 investors in a private placement offering of its stock, the SEC said.
Watson and Petroski told investors that Global One's Alpha One foreign currency trading program had an annual return of 23 percent from June 2006 through February 2009 and never had a money-losing month.
When the SEC subpoenaed Watson and Petroski, the men gave investigators fake bank records about Global One's performance, the agency said.
In reality, these historical performance claims are not supported by valid financial records. Rather, the defendants have relied on false financial records and fake Deutsche Bank and LGT Bank account statements, the SEC's court complaint said.
The two men used modern technology to create professional-looking, bogus documents that supported their extraordinary claims, said Rose Romero, Director of the SEC's Fort Worth Regional Office.
A court-ordered receiver, Thomas Taylor, has created a web site to provide information to investors at www.privatefxreceivership.com, the SEC said.
Securities and Exchange Commission v PrivateFX Global One Ltd, 36 Holdings Ltd, Robert Watson and Daniel Petroski, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas - Houston Division, No. 09-1541.
(Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)