Wayward adviser is MIA; assets frozen

Jul 8, 2012 @ 12:01 am

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

A Georgia investment adviser who allegedly bilked clients out of $40 million in a private-placement fraud has disappeared, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC has frozen the assets of the adviser, Aubrey Lee Price, while the Atlanta office of the FBI and the Lowndes County sheriff's office conduct a manhunt.

Mr. Price sold shares in an unregistered investment fund — PFG LLC — and made illiquid investments in South American real estate and a faltering bank in southern Georgia, according to the SEC, which has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

FALSE STATEMENTS

In a 22-page letter last month, Mr. Price admitted that he sent false statements to investors and regulators claiming to have earned returns on the investments to cover up between $20 million and $23 million in losses, according to the SEC.

“Price raised nearly $40 million from investors and made woeful financial transactions that he hid from them,” William P. Hicks, associate director of the SEC's Atlanta office, said in a statement. “Now both the money and Price are missing.”

Mr. Price, who moved to Georgia from Florida's Manatee County, commenced the fraud in 2008, according to the SEC.

His fund promised “positive total returns with low volatility” in a range of investments, including equities traded on U.S. markets.

mschoeff@investmentnews.com Twitter: @markschoeff

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