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Frosh Seeking Shut Down Of Towson Investor

June 18th, 2015 by WCBC Radio

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that his office is seeking to shut down the investment advisory operations of Towson-based Everest Wealth Management, Inc. and Everest Investment Advisors, Inc. based on allegations of fraud and Maryland securities law violations.

The Securities Division of the Office of the Attorney General is also seeking to permanently prohibit the owner of both companies, Philippe Rousseaux, from offering investment advisory services in Maryland.

Rousseaux and his companies are widely known in the Baltimore region for their frequent infomercial advertising. The paid broadcasts, which run under the title “The Money Guys,” are part of what Rousseaux has said is a $1 million yearly marketing campaign. The shows appear on multiple stations and lure customers with promises of guaranteed returns and limited risk.

According to an Order to Show Cause, which contains the allegations, Rousseaux and his companies have used prohibited marketing tactics to blur the distinction between insurance products and fee-based investment advisory services, a breach of fiduciary responsibility. The companies continued the practice despite repeated warnings from regulators in the Securities Division. Rousseaux has promoted his marketing strategy to industry representatives as “psychological warfare” and “mind games” explicitly designed to attract more investments.

Rousseaux also misrepresented the fee structure of a proprietary investment model, according to the Order, which does not include allegations of misappropriated funds.

“When investment promises sound too good to be true, they almost always are,” Attorney General Frosh said. “Consumers need to be on the lookout for slick advertising campaigns that highlight the upside while minimizing the risk of the investment program. We took this step to stop these activities and to raise awareness of these misleading tactics. We also want to prevent unlawful activities in the future.”

Rousseaux and his companies face multiple counts of Maryland securities law violations, including fraud in connection with the offer, sale or purchase of securities; fraud in connection with the offer and sale of investment advice; dishonest and unethical practices; and acting as an unregistered investment adviser.

According to additional allegations contained in the Order, Rousseaux and the companies:

·        misrepresented the total amount of assets Everest Investment Advisors was managing, making the company look larger for marketing purposes.

·       falsified forms used to transfer client assets from one institution to another, reducing the opportunity for clients to change their minds after agreeing to do business with him.

·       created a new investment program called the Everest Dynamic Growth Model in 2013, telling customers the program outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by 37 percent over a 10-year period. But he knowingly used performance figures that did not reflect his investment strategy, did not tell customers they were based on a retroactive calculation, and did not reflect actual results.

 

The administrative allegations are a result of findings obtained during audits dating to 2012 and subsequent investigations. Rousseaux will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations through an administrative hearing process that will determine whether the Maryland Securities Commissioner will impose the proposed penalties, which include fines and a ban on doing investment advisory business.

Frosh urged consumers to call the Securities Division at 410-576-6360 before investing money to find out whether their investment adviser, broker and securities are registered.

To read the order, go to: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Securities/Actions/2015/osc_everest_061715.pdf

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