May 22, 2017 / 3:56 PM / 4 months ago

U.S. accuses Massachusetts hedge fund manager of fraud

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts hedge fund manager has been arrested and accused of misappropriating millions of dollars from investors and engaging in a Ponzi-like scheme, U.S. authorities said.

Yasuna Murakami, who managed Cambridge, Massachusetts-based MC2 Capital Management LLC, was arrested in Vermont on Saturday and charged in a criminal complaint with wire fraud, according to papers unsealed in federal court in Boston on Monday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit against Murakami and Avi Chiat, his partner at MC2, and their firm, accusing them of defrauding investors about the funds’ performance after raising $15 million.

The SEC said that since 2008, Murakami, 44, also stole more than $8 million invested with him, and used an additional $1.3 million to make Ponzi-like payments to earlier investors by misappropriating funds from later ones.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin brought an administrative action in January against Murakami for operating a Ponzi scheme.

Murakami was arrested in Vermont on Saturday as he crossed back into the United States from Canada, a spokeswoman for Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb in Boston said.

Lawyers for Murakami and Chiat did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to the criminal complaint, Murakami schemed to defraud investors in a hedge fund he set up in 2011 that allowed U.S. investors to gain exposure to a fund overseen by Toronto-based Donville Kent Asset Management.

After soliciting money from investors for MC2 Capital Canadian Opportunities Fund, Murakami misused investments for personal expenses like international travel, student loan payments and high-end department stores, the complaint said.

He also used investor funds to make personal investments in the MC2 Canadian fund and to pay for a black Nissan GT-R sports car, according to the complaint.

Murakami additionally used money in the Canadian fund to make payments to investors in two other MC2 hedge funds, from which he had earlier misappropriated money, according the complaint and the SEC.

Chiat meanwhile misled investors about facts that suggested Murakami was misappropriating their money or that he had used the Canadian fund’s money to make Ponzi-like payments to investors in the two other hedge funds, the SEC said.

In total, more than 50 investors were defrauded, the SEC said.

The cases in the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, are U.S. v. Murakami, No. 17-mj-06119, and Securities and Exchange Commission v. Murakami, et al, No. 17-cv-10928.

Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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