By Greg Wright
MBA, CFE, CFP®, CLU, ChFC
Certified Fraud Examiner
Certified Financial Planner™
Sometimes the second shoe takes longer . . .
You may recall the SEC charges against our home-grown alleged Ponzi schemers Matthew E. Haab, Jeffrey Risinger and Tobin J. Senefeld.
As reported here months ago, Veros Partners, an affiliate of Veros CPAs, was charged with fraudulently raising $15 million from local investors, many of whom were dentists. Several of Veros’ tax and practice management clients purchased investments from an affiliate firm, Veros Partners. How convenient.
When some of those investments lost money, the defendants allegedly took “new” money from clients to pay “old” clients – apparently straight from the classic Ponzi scheme playbook. Madoff did the same thing.
You may also recall that Mr. Haab, Veros Partners’ President, had touted his Certified Financial Planning credentials. However, the Certified Financial Planning Board did not concur that Haab was, in fact, a CFP. Further, some members of the community have told me that some of the Veros’ CPA partners may not have been, in fact, Certified Public Accountants because their names could not found on the State of Indiana Accountancy Board website. Ooo shame!
Veros CPAs assets (read, client list) have been sold to its former employees by the court-appointed receiver, William E. Wendling Jr.
Defendants Matthew Haab and Jeffrey Risinger, both settled the SEC civil suit with cash and agreed never to do it again; however, Senefeld and the SEC could not reach a settlement -- it appeared that they were headed to trial.
Senefeld is no stranger to securities regulators.
His securities career spans over two dozen years and eight securities firms, where he had been sanctioned a total of 17 times for alleged wrongdoing. As was pointed out in FINRA Enforcement Dept. documents, in 1999, for example, Senefeld was censured, fined and suspended from the securities industry for 20 days. Later in that year, because of other alleged conduct he was suspended for 12 months and fined. Here is a link to his securities record thanks to the regulatory organization FINRA.
According to a recently signed agreement, a Financial Industry Regulator Authority Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent ( a AWC in industry parlance), Tobin J. Senefeld, agreed to a lifetime sanction and is barred from the securities industry. Here is a link to AWC. You may note on page four of the AWC that Senefeld agreed not to make any public statement about the AWC or “create the impression that the AWC is without factual basis.”
Perhaps the “take-away” from these events is that some professionals do not have the credentials that appear on their website, and sometimes they have had run-ins with regulators that they hope you do not find. Also, dig a little deeper when the CPA also sells investments or insurance products.