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If an investment firm receives stolen funds, and then pays you a dividend with those funds, are you a knowing accomplice?

Santa Monica, CA |

I was recently invited to join a well-performing venture firm - only to learn later that various criminals were effectively washing their ill-gotten gains by investing with the firm. When receiving any dividends, or even my investment back, it is may fear that some of these funds were co-mingled with my investments. How do I proceed to tactfully exit my position but not become ensnared in the impending/likely litigation.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. You get a really, really good attorney to represent you alone. This is not "public" "post on the internet" kind of problem. Get all your paperwork together immediately and contact a lawyer before the weekend. Suspicions and proof may be different, but prudence and being proactive are the intelligent approach.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

  2. Happy to assist further. Much will depend on how the federal authorities deal with the criminals and the firm. If the firm is merely sued for restitution, I somehow doubt (although it could based on the LP/LLC agreement for the v/c fund) it would seek contribution from investors. But if there is a receiver involved that is gathering assets of the criminals, or if the firm and/or criminals declare bankruptcy, you would likely be looking at a "claw back" action of some kind.

    When you say exit your "position," I surmise that means liquidating your holdings as opposed to leaving your job. Given what you've said, there is a Hobson's Choice. Seek to redeem and federal authorities may say you know what was going on. Don't redeem and your money is frozen for several years (that's more that two -- ask anyone involved with Stanford Financial).

    And if you haven't left, I would think it's a good time to do so. You may also need someone with knowledge of the hedge fund world to review your employment agreement. Even severance could be the subject of recovery efforts by others.

    The foregoing is not legal advice nor is it in any manner whatsoever meant to create or impute an attorney/client relationship.

  3. First, I agree with the advice that you immediately retain qualified counsel to advise you in this situation and that you do not disclose anything else about this to anyone other than your lawyer.

    Second, I find your question a bit confusing, in that you indicate that you made an investment with this firm, but it also sounds like you may have an employment or partnership position in the firm. If you are merely an investor, then the key will be to withdraw your investment as quickly as possible and take precautions necessary to avoid potential clawbacks if the firm is later subjected to claims by other investors and/or the government.

    If you are also an employee or partner who has knowledge of illegal conduct by this firm, that is a completely different situation. You may be in a position to be an SEC whistleblower, which would potentially provide you immunity from prosecution and potentially provide financial rewards if the government is successful in prosecuting this firm and its principals.

    If you fall into the whistleblower situation, I urge you to contact a firm that is experienced in representing both investors and whistleblowers. My firm is experienced in both of these areas and we'd be glad to consult with you on this matter.

    Legal Information is Not Legal Advice My answer provides information about the law based on the limited information provided in the questions asked and is not intended to provide legal advice or opinions, and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. The answer to the question is for educational and informational purposes only. The law differs in each jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on the jurisdiction or situation. Accordingly, I highly recommend that you consult with an attorney to discuss the details of your problem so you can get legal advice tailored to your particular circumstances.

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