SEC says ex-Oppenheimer manager misled investors

SEC accuses ex-manager at Oppenheimer & Co. of misleading investors on private equity fund

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators have accused a former Oppenheimer & Co. portfolio manager of misleading investors about the valuation policies and returns of a fund.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday it filed an action against Brian Williamson for allegedly drawing investors to the private equity fund in 2009 with false information.

Williamson, through his attorney, disputed the SEC's allegations and said he will contest them. The case will be heard by an administrative law judge at the SEC. Williamson worked at Oppenheimer from December 2005 to December 2011.

New York-based Oppenheimer agreed in March to pay about $2.8 million in a settlement with the SEC of related charges concerning the marketing of the private equity fund.

The fund was made up of other private equity funds. The SEC said Williamson marketed the fund by reporting a rate of return that failed to account for fees and expenses paid to fund managers or to Oppenheimer. In addition, the agency said, Williamson increased the reported value of the fund's largest investment to about $9 million from $6 million, falsely stating that the fund valued its investments in accordance with the estimates from the investments' managers.

One of Williamson's attorneys, Andrew Levander of Dechert LLP, said in a statement that "the SEC has alleged fraud where none exists."

"Brian Williamson has worked tirelessly for his investors," the statement said. "Mr. Williamson will vigorously defend against these charges and looks forward to vindicating his good name and reputation in the industry."

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