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Former Harbinger COO to settle SEC charges

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The former chief operating officer (COO) at Harbinger Capital Partners is to settle SEC charges that he assisted a scheme by the firm and its owner Philip A Falcone to misappropriate millions of dollars from a hedge fund they managed.

The money was used to pay Falcone’s personal taxes. 

Peter A Jenson, who was charged along with Falcone and Harbinger in a 2012 enforcement action by the SEC, has agreed to admit wrongdoing and pay a $200,000 penalty.  He also agreed to be prohibited from working in the securities industry for at least two years, and agreed to be suspended for at least two years from practicing as an accountant on behalf of any publicly traded company or other entity regulated by the SEC. 

The settlement papers were filed in US District Court for the Southern District of New York and must be approved by the court.

Falcone and Harbinger consented to a settlement last year in which they agreed to pay more than USD18 million and admit wrongdoing.

“Jenson assisted a fraudulent scheme that allowed Falcone to put his own interests ahead of investors by engaging in a related party loan on favourable terms,” says Julie M Riewe, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit.  “This settlement shows that we hold accountable not only those who perpetrate a scheme, but also those who enable them.”

In his settlement, Jenson admits that with knowledge of Falcone’s and Harbinger’s violations, he provided substantial assistance in connection with the loan by failing to:

  • Ensure that the lender (Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situations Fund) had separate counsel.
  • Ensure that the loan was consistent with Falcone’s fiduciary obligations to the Special Situations Fund.
  • Ensure that Falcone paid an “above market” interest rate on the loan.
  • Timely disclose the loan to investors.
  • Take actions to cause the lender to accelerate Falcone’s payment on the loan once investors in the Special Situations Fund were permitted to begin redeeming their investments.

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