The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order freezing assets of a Santa Ana, California-based company and its founder, who allegedly carried out an ongoing fraud targeting members of the Vietnamese-American community.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Richard Vu Nguyen (a/k/a Nguyen Thanh Vu) and his company, NTV Financial Group, raised approximately $2.4 million from at least 80 investors.
Nguyen targeted the Vietnamese-American community in California and elsewhere through paid weekly talk shows on Vietnamese-language TV, where he falsely presented himself as an experienced former Goldman Sachs banker and failed to disclose that he was a twice convicted felon, including for a prior investment scam.
As alleged in the complaint, Nguyen offered investors the chance to invest in a “fund” he called “Nguyen Tran Le Fund.” The SEC claims, however, the so-called fund was a collection of financial accounts held by Nguyen, NTV, and Nguyen’s girlfriend.
Nguyen also promised investors 16 percent annual returns and said that their investments were 100 percent guaranteed, that he had never lost money managing client accounts, and that they could withdraw their money at any time. He allegedly used roughly $600,000 in investor funds for business and personal expenses, including purchases of a home and vehicles.
The district court for the Central District of California granted the SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order against Nguyen and NTV. The court’s order freezes the defendants’ assets and temporarily bars Nguyen from accessing his clients’ brokerage accounts. This week, the district court issued an order appointing a receiver.
The SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction extending the emergency relief through the conclusion of the case has been set for July 8, 2019.