Falcone pays back hedge fund loan

Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:02pm EDT

* Hedge fund loan had sparked controversy, investigations

* Falcone used loan proceeds to pay taxes

By Matthew Goldstein

NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - Billionaire trader Philip Falcone recently rid himself of a headache when he paid off the balance of a controversial $113 million loan he had taken from his hedge fund, public records reveal.

On March 11, lawyers for Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners filed a formal "termination" notice for the loan with the New York State Department of Corporations.

The termination notice removes a lien the hedge fund had placed on some of Falcone's assets at the time the loan was arranged in October 2009. Liens are terminated when a debt is paid.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors in New York opened a preliminary investigation into the loan, which occurred during a time that Falcone was restricting some investor withdrawals. Federal authorities opened the investigation after fielding complaints from some of Harbinger's investors.

A spokesman for Falcone declined to comment.

It was not clear what, if any, impact Falcone's repayment of the loan will have on the investigation. An attorney with the SEC did not return a phone call seeking a comment.

Harbinger investors, including several interviewed by Reuters, said they were disturbed that Falcone took five months to officially notify them that he borrowed money from the hedge fund.

In November, Falcone, commenting on the loan controversy, told Reuters that he had paid back half the money and intended to retire the loan with a few months. Falcone said he borrowed the money from Harbinger's Special Situations Fund to meet some of his federal and state tax obligation arising from his own personal investment in Harbinger.

The interest rate Falcone paid on the $113 million was never disclosed. But Falcone had up until October 2014 to repay the fund. (Reported by Matthew Goldstein; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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