U.S. Accuses Texas Professor, Lawyer of Fraud

May 27, 2009

Two Texas men defrauded investors of some $19.5 million by faking bank records to show that their business, PrivateFX Global One, achieved annual returns of more than 23 percent in foreign exchange trading, U.S. regulators said Tuesday.

The SEC said it obtained an emergency court order freezing the assets of Texas A&M finance professor Robert D. Watson and Houston lawyer Daniel Petroski. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is also investigating the alleged fraud.

“We’re reviewing the information in the pleadings and will respond after we’ve had a chance to review them,” said Richard Roper, an attorney for Petroski.

Watson could not be reached for comment.

Global One was founded in 2006 by the two men, who registered it as a corporation in Panama and raised at least $19.5 million from more than 60 investors in a private placement offering of its stock, the SEC said.

Watson and Petroski told investors that Global One’s “Alpha One” foreign currency trading program had an annual return of 23 percent from June 2006 through February 2009 and never had a money-losing month.

When the SEC and CFTC subpoenaed Watson and Petroski, the men gave investigators fake bank records about Global One’s performance, the regulators said.

“In reality, these historical performance claims are not supported by valid financial records. Rather, the defendants have relied on false financial records and fake Deutsche Bank and LGT Bank account statements,” the SEC’s court complaint said.

The CFTC said that during 2008, Global One purportedly executed 146 foreign exchange trades and only 20 were unprofitable, meaning that 86 percent were winning trades.

The two men “used modern technology to create professional-looking, bogus documents that supported their extraordinary claims,” said Rose Romero, Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office.

A court-ordered receiver, Thomas Taylor, has created a web site to provide information to investors at www.privatefxreceivership.com, the SEC said.

Securities and Exchange Commission v PrivateFX Global One Ltd, 36 Holdings Ltd, Robert Watson and Daniel Petroski, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas – Houston Division, No. 09-1541. The CFTC’s case against Global One in the same court is No. 09-1540. (Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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