Provident Asset Management has officially been expelled by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for marketing a series of fraudulent private placements through its affiliate, Provident Royalties, LLC, in what the regulator calls a “massive Ponzi scheme.”
According to FINRA, Provident misrepresented to investors that the funds raised through the various offerings would be used to purchase interests in the oil and gas business. In reality, the funds were commingled and used by an affiliated issuer to make dividend and principal payments to other investors. In addition, FINRA says Provident acted as the agent in an oil and gas private placement offering but failed to establish an escrow account for investors’ funds during the contingency period of the offering.
FINRA found that from September 2006 through January 2009, Provident Asset Management marketed and sold preferred stock and limited partnership interests in a series of 23 private placements offered by Provident Royalties, LLC. Provident Asset Management’s only business line was acting as the wholesaling broker-dealer for the Provident Royalties’ offerings, which were sold to customers through more than 50 retail broker/dealers nationwide. In total, more than $480 million was raised through approximately 7,700 individual investments made by thousands of investors.
Meanwhile, FINRA’s broader investigation into broker/dealers that sold Provident private placements remains ongoing.