Twelve Operational Due Diligence Lessons from the SEC’s Recent Action against the Manager of a Commodities-Focused Hedge Fund

On March 15, 2011, the SEC filed a complaint the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Juno Mother Earth Asset Management, LLC (Juno) and its principals, Arturo Rodriguez and Eugenio Verzili.  The complaint alleges that Juno and its principals started selling interests in the Juno Mother Earth Resources Fund, Ltd. (Resources Fund) in late 2006, and by the middle of 2008, substantially all of the Resources Fund's investors had requested redemptions.  The SEC alleges that during the short life of the Resources Fund, Rodriguez and Verzili engaged in a range of bad acts, including misappropriation of fund assets, inappropriate loans from the fund to the management company, misrepresentations of strategy and assets under management and disclosure violations.  Assuming for purposes of analysis that the allegations in the complaint are true, the complaint illuminates a variety of pitfalls for institutional investors to avoid.  This article describes the factual and legal allegations in the complaint, then details twelve important lessons to be derived from the complaint.  Similar to other articles we have published extracting due diligence lessons from SEC complaints, the intent of this article is to serve as a tool for institutional investors or their agents that can be used directly in performing due diligence, or can be used to update a due diligence questionnaire.  Our hope in publishing this article (and others of its type) is that at least one of the twelve lessons that we extract from the complaint enables an investor to identify a due diligence issue that it otherwise would have missed.  We think that there is no better way to identify future hedge fund frauds than to understand the mechanics and lessons of past frauds.

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