Trabulse Case Illustrates a Monitor’s Considerable Discretion to Grant, Deny or Modify Investor Claims in the Wake of a Hedge Fund Fraud

On September 26, 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused hedge fund manager Alexander James Trabulse, and various entities with which he was associated, including the Fahey Fund, L.P. (the Fahey Fund or the Fund); Fahey Financial Group, Inc.; International Trade & Data; and ITD Trading (Relief Defendants), of defrauding investors by drastically overstating the Fund’s returns and profitability.  Specifically, the SEC alleged that Trabulse sent account statements to investors in the Fund that inflated the Fund’s returns by as much as 200%, while using investor money to purchase cars and finance shopping sprees for his family members.  As a result, the SEC charged him with violating various antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.  On December 7, 2007, the SEC obtained an order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California that included (1) a preliminary injunction and (2) appointment of a monitor to oversee the operations of the Relief Defendants.  The SEC enjoined Trabulse from future violations of the federal securities laws and ordered that he pay $250,001 in disgorgement and penalties.  See SEC v. Trabulse, 526 F.Supp.2d 1008 (N.D. Cal. 2007).  The monitor has since allowed 115 claims, in whole or in part, totaling approximately $13.9 million.  This article discussed the claims review process crafted by the monitor, and illustrates the equitable power of a monitor to grant, deny or modify claims made by investors in the wake of a hedge fund fraud.  The case is illustrative precisely because of the typicality of certain of the claims faced by the monitor – including claims involving valuation, inadequate documentation and claimed withdrawals in excess of principal invested.

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