Jan 30 The U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) announced on Thursday it has charged a New York
private equity manager and his firm with stealing more than $9
million from fund investors.
The government has frozen the assets of Lawrence E. Penn III
and his firm, Camelot Acquisitions Secondary Opportunity
Management, another individual and three entities that may be
related to the theft, according to an SEC release.
The SEC alleges that Penn used about $9.3 million from the
fund to pay fake fees to Ssecurion, a company controlled by his
longtime acquaintance, San Francisco-based Altura S. Ewers, who
would then kick the money back to companies and accounts
controlled by Penn.
Penn used the funds to rent luxury office space and pay
commissions to third parties to secure investments from pension
funds, according to the release.
Camelot's auditors began to become suspicious of the fees in
2013 after Penn and Ewers lied and forged documents in order to
cover up their scheme, according to the SEC.
"Penn held himself out as an ultra-sophisticated and
well-connected investor in the private equity world," Andrew M.
Calamari, the director of the SEC's New York Regional Office
said in a statement. "Behind the scenes, Penn disregarded his
obligations to the fund's investors and treated their assets as
his own personal and professional slush fund."
A Camelot representative was unavailable to comment on the
SEC charges. Contact information for Penn and Ewers was not
The SEC's complaint, which was filed in a federal court in
New York, charges Penn, two Camelot entities, Ewers and
Ssecurion with violating U.S. securities laws. It seeks the
disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with interest and applicable
Penn founded the private equity fund Camelot Acquisitions
Secondary Opportunities LP in 2010, eventually securing capital
commitments of roughly $120 million, according to the SEC.
Camelot's investments are primarily growth-stage private
companies that want to go public.