Court Rules Against Atlanta Investment Advisor and Company
Federal judge Thomas W. Thrash of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has issued an order of preliminary injunction against violations of Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s case against Benjamin Daniel DeHaan and Lighthouse Financial Partners, LLC. The order also allows for expedited discovery, asset freezes, prevents the destruction or concealment of documents and requires an accounting. Lighthouse, an investment advisor located in Atlanta and registered with the State of Georgia, has been owned and operated by DeHaan since 2007.
The SEC filed its case against DeHaan and Lighthouse on Saturday, June 9, 2012. The Commission’s complaint alleged that from approximately January 2011 through early May 2012, DeHaan moved approximately $1.2 million in funds belonging to his clients from their accounts at a custodial broker-dealer into a bank account in Lighthouse’s name that he controlled, thus gaining custody and control of these client assets.
DeHaan and Lighthouse told the clients that these funds would be used to open new accounts at another broker-dealer. Once in this account, at least some of these funds were moved to a personal account belong to DeHaan and to accounts used by Lighthouse for business expenses. At least $600,000 in client funds remains unaccounted for. DeHaan was also alleged to have provided false documents to the Commission’s staff and to an examiner for the State of Georgia.
DeHaan and Lighthouse consented to the entry of the order providing for a preliminary injunction and other relief without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission’s complaint. The Commission may seek additional relief, such as a permanent injunction, disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest and civil penalties, at a later time.