Risk & Compliance

SEC Charges VC Fund Manager in Ponzi Scheme

The fund manager sold investors on pre-IPO shares of Twitter and Uber, but couldn't deliver the promised shares and profits.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 2, 2015
SEC Charges VC Fund Manager in Ponzi Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a venture capital fund manager with running a Ponzi scheme.

In a press release Fridaythe SEC said that it had filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charging Gregory W. Gray, Jr., and his firms Archipel Capital LLC and BIM Management LP for fraudulently using money from three investment funds to pay fictitious returns to investors in a different fund.

According to the agency, Gray raised nearly $5.3 million from investors, promising to invest in pre-IPO Twitter shares on their behalf. While he had enough money to buy 230,000 such shares, he only purchased 80,000 before Twitter went public. When investors demanded the remaining promised shares and profits, Gray then transferred money from three unrelated funds in what the SEC determined was a Ponzi-like scheme.

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The majority of the money to cover the shortfall came from one investor, whom Gray falsely told that his investments were for stock in Uber Technologies, according to the SEC. Gray fabricated a document using the signature pages of an earlier legitimate stock purchase agreement for shares in a completely different company.

“Gray sold investors on a seemingly great idea to acquire pre-IPO shares of high-profile companies like Twitter and Uber at a low price,” Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, said in the press release. “But rather than come clean when he failed to invest as promised, Gray stole from investors to cover his misdeeds.”

The SEC’s complaint seeks, in addition to preliminary relief and a temporary restraining order, permanent injunctions and disgorgement against all defendants and a financial penalty.