After feuding over their jurisdiction for years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday filed their first joint enforcement action.
The agencies accused a Provo, Utah, firm and three individuals of violating both securities and commodities laws and of defrauding investors.
The complaint filed in Salt Lake City accused T&D Management Co. of running an investment scheme in which money invested by new customers was used to pay "profits" to previous investors.
Without admitting or denying the charges, T&D and the three persons agreed to abide by a federal court injunction prohibiting them from violating commodity and securities fraud provisions. Also named in the court order were Veldon Dee Taylor and Kay Allan Driggs, partners in T&D, and Larry D. Barrick, sales manager of the firm.
The CFTC and SEC have clashed repeatedly over regulating some kinds of investments. The CFTC has insisted that Congress gave it exclusive authority over all transactions involving commodities and commodity futures contracts.
The two agencies were ordered by Congress to investigate last year's collapse of the silver market, but they disagreed so vehemently that the SEC filed written objections to the final report drafted by the CFTC. t
The commodity agency discouraged both the SEC and state investment regulators from going after commodity frauds until recently, when CFTC Chairman Phillip Johnson asked the states for help.
Johnson and SEC Chairman John Shad have held talks recently about how to regulate new types of options, which are investments that resemble both securities and commodity futures contracts. Both agencies have options trading plans under consideration, with major differences in the regulatory requirements.
In their first joint enforcement action, the two long-time rivals went after a commodity investments firm that told investors it had earned profits averaging between 65 percent and 70 percent for the last eight years.
That was not true, the two agencies charged in a civil suit filed against T&D in the federal court for Utah. The "profits" paid to customers actually came from later investors, a scheme known as a "Ponzi game" after the swindler credited with inventing it.
The complaint charged that T&D violated SEC laws by selling unregistered securities and investment contracts and committed fraud in the sale of securities. It also charged them with fraud by a commodity pool operator, a violation of laws enforced by the CFTC.
The court documents in the case did not disclose how much customers of the firm lost or whether either the SEC or CFTC would be able to get their money back.