SEC Charges Six in Securities Fraud Scheme

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On September 24, 2015 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged six men, including a father and three sons, with securities fraud associated with Gerova Financial Group Ltd., whose shares once traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced criminal charges against the six regarding the fraud. Those charged are Jason Galanis, his father John Galanis, brothers Derek Galanis and Jared Galanis, along with Gerova president and chairman Gary Hirst and investment adviser Gavin Hamels. Jason Galanis is a securities fraud recidivist who was charged by the SEC in 2007 and his father, John Galanis, has been a defendant in several SEC enforcement actions dating back to the early 1970s, including actions that involved securities fraud.

The SEC complaint alleges that in early 2010, Jason Galanis and Hirst orchestrated a scheme to secretly issue $72 million of unrestricted Gerova shares to a Galanis family friend in Kosovo. According to the complaint, Jason Galanis, his father, and his brothers directed sales of the shares from the Kosovo friend’s brokerage accounts and had the proceeds wired to them and their associates who collectively realized at least $16 million in illicit earnings.

Also, the SEC complaint names Gavin Hamels, an investment adviser that Jason Galanis supposedly bribed to buy Gerova stock in order to stabilize Gerova’s stock price as the shares were liquidated. The complaint alleges that many of the purchases were coordinated in matched trades with the Kosovo friend’s sales. Hamels is alleged to have bought Gerova stock for clients based on arrangements with Jared Galanis regarding the times, prices, and amounts of stock to purchase, and is alleged to have failed to tell his clients of the bribe from Jason Galanis.

The complaint charges Jason Galanis, Jared Galanis, Derek Galanis and Hirst with violations of Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”); Jason Galanis, Jared Galanis and Derek Galanis with violations of Section 17(a)(1) of the Securities Act; Jason Galanis, Jared Galanis, Derek Galanis and Hamels with violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder; John Galanis and Hirst with violations of Section 20(e) of the Exchange Act for aiding and abetting violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder; Jared Galanis with violations of Section 20(e) of the Exchange Act for aiding and abetting violations of Section 9(a)(1) of the Exchange Act; and Hamels with violations of Section 9(a)(1) of the Exchange Act, and Sections 206(1) and (2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”). In addition, the SEC alleges, in the alternative, that Derek Galanis violated Section 15(b) of the Securities Act by aiding and abetting violations of Section 17(a)(1); Jared Galanis and Derek Galanis violated Section 20(e) of the Exchange Act by aiding and abetting violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder; and Hamels violated Section 209(f) of the Advisers Act by aiding and abetting violations of Sections 206(1) and (2) of the Advisers Act.

The complaint seeks a final judgment permanently enjoining the defendants from committing future violations of these provisions, ordering them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, imposing financial penalties and barring Jason Galanis and Hirst from acting as officers or directors of a public company.

For further information about this securities law blog post, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, by email at [email protected]ieslawyer101.com or visit  www.securitieslawyer101.com.   This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal and compliance advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.

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Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
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