The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced charges against a New York firm and its owner for operating as an unregistered investment adviser to a lone client: a sanctioned Russian oligarch.
Michael Matlin, owner and principal of Concord Management, founded the firm in 1999 to provide investment advice for compensation and to supervise and manage the client’s investments in U.S.-based private funds, the SEC said in a press release Tuesday.
From at least 2012 through March 2022, Concord and Matlin sourced, arranged, and monitored hundreds of investments in private equity and hedge funds on behalf of the client, according to the SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
By failing to register, Matlin and Concord avoided certain legal obligations for investment advisers, such as reporting requirements and examination by the SEC, the agency said.
Concord’s sole client, according to multiple reports, is sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The SEC did not name Abramovich in its complaint.
Abramovich is a former Russian political official with connections to the Russian Federation. In March 2022, the United Kingdom and European Union designated him as a sanctioned individual, and in April 2022, the Royal Court of Jersey froze his assets.
In February 2022, Concord and Matlin were tasked with selling off the client’s investment portfolio, the SEC alleged, with estimated assets totaling $7.2 billion in 112 different private funds.
Concord “skirted rules crucial to the commission’s ability to monitor the market for abuse, including rules requiring investment advisers to adopt specific compliance policies and to maintain certain books and records,” said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in the release.
The lawsuit seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.
“While we are disappointed with the SEC’s decision to pursue this non-intent-based claim, we are confident that a full and fair review of the applicable law and relevant facts will underscore that Concord Management and Michael Matlin complied with all regulatory and legal requirements,” a spokesperson for Concord and Matlin said in an emailed statement.