The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Atlanta-based investment adviser and radio show host Christopher Burns with defrauding investors and misappropriating investor funds.
Earlier this month, The DI Wire reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia sought the public’s help in locating Burns, who has not been seen since he left his home on September 24th, one day before he was supposed to turn over documents to the SEC. His vehicle was found abandoned in Dunwoody, Georgia. Inside the vehicle were copies of three cashier’s checks totaling more than $78,000.
The SEC’s lawsuit against Burns alleges that, through his investment adviser firm Investus Advisers LLC/Dynamic Money LLC, he sold more than $10 million in promissory notes to investors issued by two of his other companies, Investus Financial LLC and Peer Connect LLC.
The SEC further alleges that Burns falsely told investors that their funds would be used for a peer-to-peer lending program for businesses in need of capital. He purportedly touted the safety of the notes, which he said were backed by collateral.
The SEC claims the peer-to-peer lending program was a sham, and Burns spent the money he raised to repay earlier investors, fund his lifestyle, and elevate his status as an investment adviser by purchasing tens of thousands of dollars of airtime for his local radio show. Burns allegedly increased his promissory note sales in the months leading up to his disappearance.
The complaint charges Burns, Investus Advisers/Dynamic Money, Investus Financial LLC, and Peer Connect LLC with violating the antifraud provisions of various federal securities laws, and names Burns’s ex-wife, Meredith Burns, as a relief defendant.
The SEC seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, an asset freeze, an accounting, disgorgement of all ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.
On November 12, 2020, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia entered an order temporarily restraining the defendants from violating the charged provisions of the federal securities laws, instituting an asset freeze, and ordering other relief. Burns is also under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.
In October, a class action lawsuit was filed against Burns, his investment entities, and an unaffiliated asset manager, Matson Money, which has since denied any wrongdoing.