SEC sues Petters feeder fund, manager over alleged fraud

By Beth Hawkins and Andrew Harris, Bloomberg

A Connecticut hedge fund and its manager were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for disgorgement of gains made while sending hundreds of millions of investors' dollars to fraud scheme operator Thomas Petters.

The SEC complaint was filed today against Marlon Quan and his Greenwich, Connecticut-based Acorn Capital Group LLC. The complaint also names as a defendant Stewardship Investment Advisors LLC, another firm controlled by Quan.

Quan "funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Thomas Petters and his notorious Ponzi scheme" from 2001 through 2008, taking in more than $459 million from about 165 people and sending most of it to Petters entities, according to the complaint in federal court in Minneapolis.

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Petters is serving a 50-year federal prison sentence after being found guilty in December 2009 of running the $3.5 billion scam. He was convicted of bilking hundreds of investors who thought they were financing short-term transactions involving consumer electronics that Petters said were destined for big-box retailers.

Quan concealed evidence of Petters's fraud, including by engaging in $187 million in "round-trip" transactions designed to hide the scheme, the SEC said.

Phones at Acorn Capital Management weren't answered today and Quan couldn't immediately be located for comment. Robert Gottlieb, a Manhattan attorney who represented Quan and Acorn in a 2008 lawsuit, said today they are no longer his clients.

During the fraud, Quan pocketed $90 million in fees, said Peter Chan, an SEC assistant regional director for the Chicago Region, in a phone interview. The agency is seeking disgorgement of at least that sum together with an order freezing Quan's assets, including a $14 million payment he is slated to receive from the Petters's receivership as early as tomorrow, according to Chan and the complaint.

The case is U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission v. Quan, 11-cv-00723, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (Minneapolis).