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SEC charges mutual fund adviser with failing to turn over records to SEC examiners

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Florida-based investment manager and his firm for failing to provide SEC examiners with records of a mutual fund advisory business that invested in NASCAR-related stocks.

The SEC examiners sought records from David W. Dube and Peak Wealth Opportunities LLC while examining a mutual fund they advised called the Stock Car Stock Index Fund. Despite repeated requests, Dube and Peak Wealth failed to furnish certain records to the SEC.

“After promising multiple times to provide the requested records, Dube failed to live up to his regulatory obligations and turn over the records,” said Bruce Karpati, Chief of the Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “When financial professionals fail to cooperate with SEC exams, they force the agency to expend greater resources to pursue investigations.”

According to an SEC order initiating administrative proceedings, Peak Wealth was the adviser to the Stock Car Stock Index fund from 2008 to June 2010. SEC examination staff requested records from Peak Wealth and Dube in 2010 while examining Peak Wealth’s advisory business and the operations of the fund.

The SEC further alleges that Dube and Peak Wealth:
• Failed to make and keep certain required financial records.
• Failed to withdraw Peak Wealth’s registration with the SEC and make other required filings.
• Failed to provide the fund’s board of directors with information reasonably necessary to assess Peak Wealth’s advisory fees.

Simultaneously with the SEC’s examination in 2010, the fund’s board requested information from Peak Wealth and Dube as part of the fund’s required annual evaluation of its advisory agreements. The annual evaluations are required under Section 15(c) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, which also requires advisers to provide their boards with information reasonably necessary to conduct those evaluations. Despite requesting additional time to respond to the board, Peak Wealth and Dube failed to provide any of the requested documents. The board subsequently terminated Peak Wealth’s advisory agreement and liquidated the fund by returning the money to investors.

“A fully-informed board is crucial to the advisory fee setting process, yet Dube failed to provide the board with the most basic of information,” said Chad Alan Earnst, an Assistant Regional Director in the Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit.

Under the relevant rules, the SEC could seek to permanently bar Dube from association with an SEC registered investment adviser or broker dealer. The SEC alleges that Peak Wealth willfully violated Sections 203A and 204 of the Advisers Act of 1940 and Rules 203A-1(b)(2), 204-1(a)(1), 204-2(a)(1), (2), (4), (5), and (6) thereunder, and Section 15(c) of the Investment Company Act. The SEC charged Dube with willfully aiding and abetting and causing Peak Wealth’s violations.

The SEC’s investigation was handled by Chad Alan Earnst and Christine Lynch, members of the Asset Management Unit in the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. The related examination was conducted by John Mattimore, Faye Chin, Roda Johnson, Luisa Lipins, and Victor Pedroso. Robert Levenson is leading the SEC’s litigation.
 

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