Risk & Compliance

Forex Trader Accused of $23M Investor Fraud

The SEC says Haena Park misrepresented her trades were profitable while losing more than $16 million in investor funds since 2012.
Matthew HellerJune 3, 2016

A New York City-based foreign exchange trader has been charged with claiming her investments were profitable when she actually lost more than $16 million since 2012.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Haena Park, 40, misrepresented her investment track record in raising at least $14 million from more than 30 investors for funds she operated under the names Phaetra and Argenta.

While incurring heavy trading losses month in the futures and forex markets, she allegedly duped investors by, among other things, sending them monthly statements showing fictitious profits.

In a parallel criminal case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Park defrauded investors of more than $23 million since January 2010. According to prosecutors, she touted annualized returns as high as 48.9% but lost approximately $19.5 million of the $20 million that she traded.

Authorities said Park hid her losses in “a Ponzi-like fashion” by using $3 million in new investor funds to pay back other investors.

“We allege that Park brazenly obtained investor money under false pretenses and compounded her egregious conduct by using phony monthly statements to convince some investors to significantly increase their investments based on fictitious positive returns,” Andrew M. Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York regional office, said in a news release.

According to the SEC’s civil complaint, Park was employed by various Wall Street firms from about 1998 to 2008, forming her own Argenta Group around May 2010 and beginning to actively solicit investors, including friends, family and former Harvard classmates, from at least January 2012.

The SEC described Park as an “extremely active” day-trader, primarily in highly leveraged futures and forex trading. But of the approximately $18 million deposited to her trading account, the SEC said, she lost more than $16 million and “withdrew approximately $1.5 million virtually wiping out the entire value.”

If convicted of commodities fraud and wire fraud in the criminal case, Park could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and 20 years, respectively.