SEC Charges GPB Capital Holdings LLC; Ascendant Capital LLC; Ascendant Alternative Strategies, LLC & Others With Running A Ponzi-Like Scheme That Raised Over $1.7 Billion
Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. is making investors aware that on February 4, 2021, the SEC announced that it charged three individuals and their affiliated entities with running a Ponzi-like scheme that raised over $1.7 billion from securities issued by a New York-based asset management firm and registered investment adviser, GPB Capital Holdings.
The SEC’s complaint filed against GPB CAPITAL HOLDINGS (“GPB Capital), LLC; ASCENDANT CAPITAL, LLC (“Ascendant Capital”); ASCENDANT ALTERNATIVE STRATEGIES, LLC; DAVID GENTILE (“Gentile”); JEFFRY SCHNEIDER (“Schneider”); and JEFFREY LASH (“Lash”) alleges that Gentile, the owner and CEO of GPB Capital, and Schneider, the owner of GPB Capital’s placement agent, Ascendant Capital, lied to investors about the source of money used to make an 8% annualized distribution payment to investors.
According to the complaint, the defendants, along with Ascendant Alternative Strategies, which marketed GPB Capital’s investments, told investors that the distribution payments were paid exclusively with monies generated by GPB Capital’s portfolio companies. Allegedly, GPB Capital actually used investor money to pay portions of the annualized 8% distribution payments. GPB Capital and Gentile with assistance from Lash, a former managing partner at GPB Capital, also, allegedly, manipulated the financial statements of certain limited partnership funds managed by GPB Capital to perpetuate the deception by giving the false appearance that the funds’ income was closer to generating sufficient income to cover the distribution payments than it actually was.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that GPB Capital and Ascendant Capital made misrepresentations to investors about millions of dollars in fees and other compensation received by Gentile and Schneider. Allegedly, the fraudulent scheme continued for more than four years in part because GPB Capital kept investors in the dark about the limited partnership funds’ true financial condition, failing to deliver audited financial statements and register two of its funds with the SEC.
GPB Capital also, allegedly, violated the whistleblower provisions of the securities laws by including language in termination and separation agreements that impeded individuals from coming forward to the SEC, and by retaliating against a known whistleblower.
According to the SEC’s complaint:
GPB Capital describes itself as a New York-based alternative asset management firm that acts as a general partner and fund manager for limited partnership funds. The limited partnership funds invest in various businesses with a focus primarily on automotive retail, waste management, and healthcare (collectively, the “Portfolio Companies”). Since its founding in 2013, GPB Capital has raised in excess of $1.7 billion for at least five limited partnership funds from approximately 17,000 retail investors nationwide, approximately 4,000 of whom are seniors. Nearly all of the $1.7 billion raised is still at risk: in 2018 GPB Capital suspended all redemptions and distributions and, according to a recent regulatory filing, GPB Capital’s assets are far below its obligations to the investors. [Emphasis added.]