GPB Capital Holdings now focus of FBI investigation

Agency's inquiry follows SEC and Finra investigations into private placement firm, which has raised $1.8 billion from wealthy investors

Mar 4, 2019 @ 1:01 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Already the focus of inquiries by the SEC and Finra, GPB Capital Holdings said on Monday that the FBI made an unannounced visit last week to the investment firm's office in New York.

GPB Capital has raised $1.8 billion from accredited investors through private placement funds, which invest in auto dealerships and the waste management industry.

Registered reps from dozens of independent broker-dealers sold the high risk, high-commission private placements.

In December, InvestmentNews reported that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. and the Securities and Exchange Commission launched investigations in to GPB, citing industry sources.

The focus of the SEC's inquiry was the accuracy of disclosures made by GPB to investors, the performance of various funds and the distribution of capital to investors, according to an industry source.

The firm has been working on enhancing its oversight and auditing practices, a company spokesperson said in a statement. The FBI entered the firm's Manhattan offices on Thursday, along with officials from the New York City Business Integrity Commission.

The commission regulates the public wholesale markets, and the private carting and shipboard gambling industries.

"Recently, we have been cooperating with inquiries from various authorities and the visit on February 28, 2019 from the FBI and the New York City Business Integrity Commission, while unscheduled, was a part of that process," according to an email from a GPB spokesman.

"We will continue to cooperate with inquiries and are confident that as we move forward our portfolio companies are stable and well-positioned for the future."

GPB has spent much of the past year dealing with a variety of problems.

In August, the firm said it was taking a break from raising new money to focus on straightening out the accounting and financial statements of its two large funds. Soon after, it said it was restating 2015 and 2016 financial statements of certain funds as part of an accounting review. And in November, the firm's auditor, Crowe LLP, resigned.

In September, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin announced a sweeping investigation into 63 broker-dealer firms selling private placements from GPB.

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