The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Massachusetts-based investment adviser James K. Couture with defrauding his advisory clients and misappropriating approximately $2.9 million from them.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced criminal charges against Couture.
The SEC alleges that while operating a hybrid firm affiliated with LPL Financial from 2009 to December 2019, Couture fraudulently encouraged clients to sell portions of their securities holdings and transfer the funds to an entity that, unbeknownst to his clients, Couture owned and controlled.
According to the complaint, for each transaction, Couture obtained client authorization by falsely claiming that the proceeds would be reinvested for the clients’ financial benefit. In fact. Couture used the sale proceeds for his own benefit.
The complaint also alleges that Couture provided clients with fabricated account statements and that when clients requested withdrawals, he allegedly took assets from other clients to cover the withdrawals. According to the complaint, in order to hide this misappropriation, Couture transferred client money through a web of third-party accounts.
Couture was discharged by LPL in June 2020 and was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. last October for failing to assist Finra in its investigation of his activities.
In its civil case, the SEC is seeking disgorgement, prejudgment interest and a civil monetary penalty.
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