A Massachusetts investment advisor who allegedly got investors into a French company he had stakes in, a company whose product aims to curb the ill health effects of smoking, has been charged with a $40 million fraud scheme, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday.
Lee Dana Weiss of Newton, Mass., and the RIA firm he owns, Family Endowment Partners LP, also in Newton, are charged with self-dealing and failing to disclose material facts to clients, the SEC says in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
In April, Weiss was hit with a $48 million Finra arbitration award after two clients sued him over investments in the company, Biosyntec Polska, which supposedly held a patent on a cigarette filter that could reduce the harmful effects of smoking.
According to the SEC complaint, Weiss and his firm urged 11 individual clients and two hedge funds to invest more than $40 million in illiquid securities issued by several companies related to the cigarette filter company without disclosing that Weiss had an ownership interest in the parent company and that he received payments from the related companies, the SEC says.
Weiss and the firm also recommended clients invest in the related companies without disclosing that Family Endowment Partners would be the primary beneficiary of many of the investments.
FEP and Weiss failed to disclose that Weiss and entities he controlled received more than $600,000 in payments from Biosyntec and related companies shortly after the FEP clients and hedge funds invested in it, the SEC says. They also failed to disclose that some of the investment money was going to pay delinquent interest payments to FEP investors.
The violations occurred between 2011 and 2014, according to the SEC.