The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged three individuals who, while working for investment adviser Stephen C. Peters, falsified and withheld documents that were requested by SEC staff during an examination and ensuing enforcement investigation.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Stacey Beane, Justin Deckert, and Travis Laska helped conceal a fraudulent offering of more than $10 million in promissory notes by Peters, the owner and principle of VisionQuest Wealth Management.
Peters was previously charged by the SEC and was convicted in a parallel criminal case last June of 20 counts, including investment adviser fraud, fraudulent sale of unregistered securities, mail and wire fraud, and falsification of documents provided to the SEC.
The SEC alleges that Beane, Deckert, and Laska fabricated documents to suggest that Peters had disclosed potential conflicts of interest to VisionQuest’s compliance officer, altered other documents to make certain clients appear to be accredited investors, and forged or backdated client signatures on various agreements, which they knew would be provided to the SEC.
In addition, when the SEC requested Peters’ emails, Beane and Laska allegedly used keyword searches provided by Peters to identify certain emails that should be withheld.
The SEC’s complaint charges Beane, Deckert, and Laska with aiding and abetting VisionQuest’s violations of the books and records provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The complaint seeks injunctions and civil monetary penalties against each defendant.
Without admitting or denying the allegations, Deckert agreed to pay a $30,000 penalty and a bar from the industry with the right to apply for reentry after five years. In accepting Deckert’s offer to settle the SEC considered his cooperation in the criminal case against Peters.