(Dow Jones) The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued Rockford Funding Group LLC, alleging the New York investment firm orchestrated an $11 million Ponzi scheme.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday, alleges the company, which has reportedly touted itself as a "leading private-equity firm equipped with an $800 million pipeline of investments," made false and misleading statements between March 2009 to November 2009 to lure potential investors.
The company does business as Rockford Group, the SEC said.
"Rockford Group appears to have misled investors concerning the nature of its business operations and has failed to use investor funds as promised," the regulator said.
The SEC alleges that in part that Rockford falsely represented the length of time it has been in existence, its returns, its membership in Securities Investor Protection Corp. and its association with a number of companies, including 20 Fortune 500 corporations Rockford claimed were "major industrial pension plan clients."
The company was incorporated in December 2008, but claimed to have been existence since 1999, the SEC said.
According to the complaint, Rockford also failed to use investor funds as promised to purchase interest in "personal injury cases" and has instead sent more than $10.4 million to bank accounts in Hong Kong and Latvia.
The SEC said much of the money sent overseas was purportedly to be used to pay for "cooling systems," "construction equipment," "electronic systems" and other equipment unrelated to its claimed investment business.
The company has collected more than $11 million from at least 200 investors in 41 states and Canada, the SEC said.
The regulator also named Genadi Yagodayev, Rockford Group's president and sole member, and 12 businesses as relief defendants in the case.