Senior Managers Face Suit for Misstating Company’s Income
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico against Larry Goldstone, the former chief executive officer and president, Clarence Simmons, the former chief financial officer and senior executive vice-president, and Jane Starrett, the former chief accounting officer of Thornburg Mortgage, Inc., currently TMST, Inc., for allegedly materially misrepresenting the financial condition and liquidity of Thornburg, formerly the country’s second largest independent mortgage company. Goldstone, Simmons, and Starrett reside in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Complaint alleges that Thornburg, through Goldstone, Simmons, and Starrett, fraudulently overstated its quarterly income by more than $420 million in its 2007 annual report filed with the Commission. As a result, the Complaint alleges that Thornburg fraudulently reported a profit rather than a loss for the quarter. According to the Complaint, in the two weeks leading to the filing of its annual report, Thornburg received more than $300 million in margin calls from its lenders that severely drained its liquidity.
The Complaint further alleges that, unable to meet its margin calls on a timely basis, Thornburg violated three of its lending agreements, and received a reservation of rights letter from one lender in which the lender reserved its right to declare Thornburg in default at any time. Accordingly, the Complaint alleges that in the days before Thornburg filed its annual report, the collateral it used for its lending agreements, adjustable rate mortgage securities, was subject to being seized and sold by its lenders.
According to the Complaint, given the circumstances of Thornburg’s liquidity crisis, circumstances that were misrepresented to, and concealed from, the company’s auditor, Goldstone, Simmons, and Starrett each knew, or was reckless in not knowing, that Thornburg did not have the intent or ability to hold its ARM securities until maturity or until their value recovered in the market.
The Complaint concludes that the individual defendants also knew, or were reckless in not knowing, that this meant Thornburg was required to recognize on its income statement approximately $428 million of losses associated with the company’s ARM securities, and that the proper accounting treatment for these securities would have resulted in Thornburg reporting a loss rather than a profit for the quarter.
As part of this action, the Commission seeks against each of the defendants an injunction against future violations of the provisions set forth above, officer and director bars, and third tier civil money penalties.