A Florida couple charged last year by the SEC with defrauding seniors through the sale of charitable gift annuities has agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle the case, the SEC announced Thursday.
Richard K. and Susan L. Olive also were permanently barred from doing business in the securities industry.
The SEC filed charges against the Olives and their Tallahassee, Fla., company, We The People Inc., in February 2013. At the SEC’s request, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida subsequently appointed a receiver who has recovered about $60 million in investor funds.
The SEC also charged We The People’s former in-house counsel, William Reeves, who entered into a cooperation agreement with the agency. "As a result of the significant assistance provided by William Reeves in the case, the SEC has decided not to seek a financial penalty against him," the SEC said in a press release.
Richard Olive has agreed to pay $1,054,131 in disgorgement and a $1,054,131 penalty, while Susan Olive is required to pay $45,655 in disgorgement and a $150,000 penalty. Under the consent agreement, they neither admitted to nor denied the SEC's charges.
The couple sold charitable gift annuities to more than 450 investors, most of whom were elderly, in 30 states. They raised $75 million that was supposed to go to charitable work such as AIDS relief in Africa, but the couple used the money primarily for their personal expenses rather than charity, the SEC said.
Although they acted as broker-dealers during the scheme, the husband and wife are not registered with the SEC, according to the agency.
A charitable gift annuity like those sold by the couple generally allows a donor to give assets to a charity in exchange for a fixed-sum payout.