Verizon commits more than $45 billion to 5G spectrum bid


On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced the winners of an $81 billion auction for the license to use important airwaves that are ideal for 5G.

The big winners were Verizon and AT&T, which need these airwaves in order to build 5G networks that are significantly faster than current wireless service.

Verizon, through its Cellco Partnership subsidiary, bid nearly $45.5 billion on the airwaves. AT&T, through AT&T Spectrum Frontiers, bid $23.4 billion. The third-largest U.S. carrier, T-Mobile, bid the third largest amount of money on the spectrum at $9.3 billion.

The sums spent by the companies ended up much higher than expectations for the auction last summer, which reflects how important securing licenses for the airwaves are for the carriers.

“These record-breaking results highlight the demand and critical need for more licensed mid-band spectrum and demonstrate the importance of developing a robust spectrum auction pipeline,” said CTIA CEO Meredith Baker in a statment. CTIA is a trade group that represents the wireless industry. Bidders are still under a quiet period where they are not permitted to publicly comment.

The 280 megahertz of spectrum up for grabs in this auction is mid-band spectrum, sometimes called the “goldilocks band,” which means that it’s well suited for 5G networks, combing both the ability to transmit huge amounts of data with a wavelength that can travel distances.

The results are in-line with previous industry expectations. Verizon and AT&T were expected to be the biggest bidders, because they did not have a lot of mid-band spectrum. T-Mobile had already acquired some mid-band through its merger with Sprint.

Not all the spectrum was sold at once. The 280 MHz of spectrum was split into smaller 20 MHz blocks, and further divided into 406 geographic regions. All together, there were 5,684 licenses up for grabs.

In total, the three biggest U.S. carriers won 90% of the licenses up for auction.

Here are the top five bidders, according to the FCC:

  • Cellco Partnership: $45,454,843,197
  • AT&T Spectrum Frontiers LLC: $23,406,860,839
  • T-Mobile License LLC: $9,336,125,147
  • United States Cellular Corporation :$1,282,641,542
  • NewLevel II, L.P.: $1,277,395,688

The top five bidders by number of licenses granted were:

  • Cellco Partnership: 3,511
  • AT&T Spectrum Frontiers LLC: 1,621
  • United States Cellular Corp.: 254
  • T-Mobile License LLC: 142
  • Canopy Spectrum, LLC: 84

 U.S. Cellular is the fourth-largest U.S. carrier. NewLevel II represents private equity firm Grain Management, while Canopy Spectrum is a venture between former Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche investor and Edward Moise Jr., according to LightReading.

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Aussie bank taken over in $1.3 billion buyout; Fourth woman alleges she was sexually assaulted by person accused of raping Brittany Higgins; Australia coronavirus vaccinations begin



By Carly Waters22 Feb 2021 05:44Former Federal Court Judge Raymond Finkelstein QC will be the commissioner overseeing the inquiry.Ms Horne flagged the government would also consider establishing an independent casino regulator.”I think that’s an appropriate response to what has occurred in NSW and some of the admissions made by Crown, so that we can have the best form of regulation and a casino operator that is working within the law in Victoria,” she said.The minister said the findings of the Bergin report were “so severe” that the Royal Commission into the casino giant was imperative.

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Thai banks net profit stood at 146.2 billion baht in 2020


Ms. Suwannee Jatsadasak, Senior Director, Bank of Thailand, reported on the Thai banking system’s performance in 2020 that the Thai banking system remained resilient with high levels of capital fund, loan loss provision and liquidity to support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Credit assistance measures, coupled with revisions to rules on loan classification and provisioning supported bank loan expansion and alleviated the deterioration of bank loan quality.  Meanwhile, banking system’s profitability declined as banks continued to set aside loan loss provision at a high level as a cushion against a potential adverse impact of COVID-19 on loan quality. 

Details are as follows:

 Capital Fund of the Thai banking system was at 2,994.3 billion baht, equivalent to capital adequacy ratio (BIS ratio) of 20.1%.  Loan loss provision remained high at 799.1 billion baht with NPL coverage ratio of 149.2%.  Liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) registered at 179.6%.

Banks’ overall loan growth was 5.1% year-on-year in 2020 edging up from 2.0% in 2019

 In 2020, banks’ overall loan growth was 5.1% year-on-year, edging up from 2.0% in 2019. Details on bank loan are as follows: 

Corporate loan (64.2% of total loan) expanded at 5.4% year-on-year, following a contraction of 0.8% in the previous year. This was mainly driven by an expansion in large corporate loan, where some large corporates switched their funding source from bond issuance to bank loan in the second quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, SME loan contracted at a lower rate, assisted by the soft loan scheme. 

Consumer loan grew at a slower pace at 4.6%

 Consumer loan (35.8% of total loan) grew at a slower pace at 4.6% year-on-year, compared to an expansion of 7.5% in the previous year, which was consistent with weak household purchasing power due to COVID-19. 

However, consumer loan growth improved across all portfolios in the second half of 2020 following an improvement in economic activity after the relaxation of lockdown measures.  In particular, mortgage lending expanded in line with an increase in demand for low-rise residential properties and developers’ marketing campaigns.   

On the loan quality front, debtors affected by COVID-19 continued to receive credit assistance from banks.  As a result, the gross non-performing loan (NPL or stage 3) outstanding slightly increased to 523.3 billion baht, equivalent to NPL ratio of 3.12%.  Meanwhile, the ratio of loans with significant increase in credit risk (SICR or stage 2) to total loans stood at 6.62%.   

Thai banks net profit stood at 146.2 billion baht in 2020

 The banking system recorded net profit of 146.2 billion baht in 2020, a decline from the previous year.  This was attributed to a high level of provisioning expenses to cushion against a potential impact of COVID-19 on loan quality going forward, combined with a high base effect from the recognition of extraordinary items from gains on sales of investments in 2019. 

As a result, the ratio of return on asset (ROA) declined from 1.39% in the previous year to 0.65%.  The ratio of net interest income to average interest-earning assets (Net Interest Margin: NIM) decreased from 2.73% to 2.51%.  

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion Voting Systems


Dominion Voting Systems, the company at the centre of several debunked US election conspiracy theories, has announced it is suing businessman Mike Lindell for a whopping sum of $US1.3 billion.

Mr Lindell, CEO of the company MyPillow, is a prominent supporter of former president Donald Trump. He has spent months repeating Mr Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him, and has spread the baseless theory that Dominion’s voting machines switched ballots cast for Mr Trump to support Joe Biden instead.

He also acted as an informal adviser to Mr Trump in the post-election period. On January 15, shortly before the former president left office, Mr Lindell was spotted waiting for a meeting with Mr Trump outside the West Wing. His notes, captured by news photographers, contained a call to “invoke martial law if necessary” in an effort to overturn Mr Biden’s victory.

Earlier this month, Mr Lindell produced a “documentary” named Absolute Proof, which laid out his allegations about the election. YouTube removed the film from its platform, saying it violated its policy against advancing false information.

Dominion was already suing Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for the same sum, along with conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell.

“I’m very happy that they’ve done this,” Mr Lindell told The New York Times today.

“I’m ready to go to court. I have all the evidence that anyone would ever want to see.”

Last month Mr Lindell said he would “welcome” a lawsuit.

RELATED: Shocking line in Trump adviser’s notes

media_cameraMr Lindell heading in to the White House to meet with Donald Trump. Picture: Getty Images

Dominion is suing him for defamation. In court filings, it accuses the “talented” pillow salesman of knowingly using the “Big Lie” of a stolen election to boost his business.

“Lindell knew there was no real ‘evidence’ supporting his claims. And he is well aware of the independent audits and paper ballot recounts conclusively disproving the Big Lie. But Lindell – a talented salesman and former professional card counter – sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows,” it says.

“MyPillow’s defamatory marketing campaign – with promo codes like ‘FightforTrump’, ’45’, ‘Proof’ and ‘QAnon’ – has increased MyPillow sales by 30-40 per cent and continues duping people into redirecting their election lie outrage into pillow purchases.”

The company’s lawyers note that Mr Lindell’s claims about its electronic voting systems switching votes are contradicted by the paper ballot recounts conducted in the aftermath of the election, particularly in Georgia.

“If the vote tallies in Dominion machines had been manipulated, the machine tallies would not match the number of votes on the paper ballots. In fact, they do match, as independent audits and hand recounts have repeatedly proven,” say the court documents.

“The contrary ‘evidence’ put forward by Lindell’s allies – including Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and others – was deliberately misrepresented, manufactured, cherry-picked, and sources from con artists and conspiracy theorists who were judicially determined to be ‘wholly unreliable’.

“Lindell knows all of this because Dominion wrote to him multiple times, put him on formal written notice of the facts, and told him that Dominion employees were receiving death threats because of the lies.

“Instead of retracting his lies, Lindell – a multimillionaire with a nearly unlimited ability to broadcast his preferred messages on conservative media – whined that he was being ‘censored’ and ‘attacked’ and produced a ‘docu-movie’ featuring shady characters and fake documents sourced from dark corners of the internet.

“Dominion brings this action to vindicate the company’s rights, to recover damages, to seek a narrowly tailored injunction, to stand up for itself and its employees, and to stop Lindell and MyPillow from further profiting at Dominion’s expense.”

You can read the full court filing here.

Former president Donald Trump.
media_cameraFormer president Donald Trump.

Mr Lindell’s defiant reaction to the lawsuit echoes that of Mr Giuliani late last month. Mr Trump’s lawyer branded the case against him an “act of intimidation”, but welcomed the chance to conduct discovery on Dominion.

“Dominion’s defamation lawsuit for $1.3 billion will allow me to investigate their history, finances, and practices fully and completely,” he said.

“The amount being asked for is, quite obviously, intended to frighten people of faint heart. It is another act of intimidation by the hate-filled left-wing to wipe out and censor the exercise of free speech, as well as the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously.

“As such, we will investigate a countersuit against them for violating these constitutional rights.”

Originally published as CEO ‘happy’ to face $1.3 billion lawsuit

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Cotton industry rebounds as harvest starts on potential $1.5 billion crop, but China still not buying


Australia’s cotton harvest is getting underway and early estimates suggest the crop will be four times larger than last year’s and worth about $1.5 billion.

If it all comes to fruition, it will be a noticeable comeback for the industry, which has struggled through years of drought and had one of its smallest crops on record in 2020.

“It was a lean year last year with only 600,000 bales, the smallest crop in 40 years,” Cotton Australia chief executive Adam Kay said.

“It’s not back to the levels we’d like to be at [of] around 4 million bales, but no-one is complaining.”

According to ABARES, the good seasonal conditions that led to Australia producing its biggest wheat crop on record resulted in the area planted to cotton this season increasing by an estimated 395 per cent to 295,000 hectares.

Australian cotton growers are expecting to get about $600 a bale this season.(Supplied: Chris Magnay)

Life without China

The cotton industry got baled up in China’s trade stoush with Australia last year, when Chinese mills were suddenly told not to buy Australian cotton.

China had been taking about 65 per cent of the Australian cotton crop in a trade worth $800 million.

Mr Kay said the unfortunate situation had not changed, but the industry had quickly found other markets.

“China is not taking any Australian cotton [at the moment], there’s no increase in tariffs or anything like that, they’re just not taking our crop,” he said.

Mr Kay said overall the cotton market was looking strong and Australian growers were expecting to receive about $600 a bale this year.

He said the cotton price was “historically at the very high end of things, which is great news”.

Cotton futures prices have reached nearly 90 US cents a pound this week, which is the highest it has been since mid-2018.

Every drop counts

The La Niña weather pattern has not delivered widespread rain to all of the cotton-growing regions, and on Queensland’s Darling Downs, irrigators are nervously doing their figures, determining if they have enough water in storage to finish their cotton crops.

Derryck Mickelborough, who farms west of Dalby, told ABC Rural he had enough water in dams, but only by the skin of his teeth.

“We’ve learned a few lessons over the past and like to keep our planting areas small and do a good job of it,” he said.

A map showing the cotton growing regions of Australia.
Map of the cotton growing regions of Australia.(Supplied: Cotton Australia)

Mr Kay said when it came to soil moisture and water for irrigation, the outlook for cotton growers was varied.

“Parts of central Queensland are quite lean [dry], but near St George they’ve done well,” he said.

“Parts of New South Wales are a bit lean too in the north-west, so [it’s] a mixed bag across all of the areas, but [it’s] good to see at least a bit of crop in all of them.”

While a few growers near Emerald have now started picking, the bulk of Australia’s cotton harvest will occur between March and May.

Meanwhile, in Australia’s far north, about 3,000 hectares has been planted during the wet season in the Northern Territory, with growers expected to make a final decision on building a cotton gin within the next few months.

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AFL pushed to establish $2 billion concussion compensation scheme


The 80-year fund idea is based on the NFL model for compensating players in the US. Jess proposes that the $25 million-a-year contribution would be funded “at the retail level of the game” and so the cost would be passed on to football fans.

The funding arrangement proposed by Jess would mean a percentage of the retail price of AFL items – from jumpers and other merchandise to images -would be allocated to the fund. Currently clubs and the AFL take a slice of the wholesale price of items.

Any extra levy would be expected to be passed on by the manufacturer and retailer to the consumer.

The fund would provide a pool of money to compensate and help players without the need to go through expensive and lengthy court action. The class action would be dropped and other civil action unlikely if the fund and compensation model were adopted.

The AFL is exploring with the AFL Players Association the best way to offer help to players and past players, who have known impacts from repeat concussive episodes, including more direct assistance with housing, employment and medical costs rather than large cash payouts.

The league recently strengthened protocols so any player suffering a concussion would not be able to return to play for a minimum of 12 days after an incident.

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The initiative would resemble the Catholic Church’s Melbourne Response, with a pool of funds to compensate footballers claiming concussion-related, long-term damage without the need for civil action, where success is more difficult to achieve.

Civil actions for concussion would be difficult in part because players have often engaged in other sports such as boxing, have suffered concussion at a young age while competing at school or local clubs, or in other sports, not at AFL level.

The arguments of assumption of risk by a footballer in competing in a contact sport as well as the degree to which a player from a young age can have informed consent are also factors that would be contested in any civil action.

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Thailand 2020 Investment Applications at Over 480 Billion Baht (USD16 billion)


The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) said today that local and foreign investors had in 2020 filed a total of 1,717 applications for investment promotion, representing a combined investment value of 481.1 billion baht (USD16 billion), led by projects in the electric and electronics and the agriculture and food processing sectors, and a surge in the medical sector.

“The coronavirus outbreak represented both a challenge and an opportunity, and while the overall economy registered a slowdown in 2020, businesses that can continue to expand during the crisis, such as the medical sector, witnessed an increased number of investment applications,” Ms Duangjai Asawach, Secretary General of the BOI, told reporters.

“The number of projects and the investment value reflect the success of the investment promotion measures we took in the past year to answer the needs of the market, especially in the medical masks, hygiene products, and medical rubber gloves segments.”

Ms Duangjai Asawach, Secretary General of the BOI

Applications for projects in the target industries, sectors of strategic importance for the country’s economic development, amounted to 230.7 billion baht, or 48% of the total value of applications.

The top five sectors by value were:

  • 1) electrical appliances and electronics with 50.3 billion baht worth of applications;
  • 2) Agriculture and food processing with 41.1 billion baht;
  • 3) automotive and parts with 37.8 billion baht;
  • 4) Petrochemicals and Chemicals with 36 billion baht; and
  • 5) Biotechnology with 30 billion baht.

165% increase in the medical sector

The medical sector saw a noticeable increase of the value of applications which grew 165%

The medical sector saw a noticeable increase of the value of applications which grew 165% from 2019 to 22.3 billion baht as a result of specials incentives offered by the BOI to this industry in support of Thailand’s efforts to manage the Covid-19 crisis.

Investments in this sector came from both large companies and SMEs.

In regard to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), some 907 project applications were filed in 2020 worth a total investment value of 213.2 billion baht.

FDI led by Japan followed by China

The FDI were led by Japanese companies, which topped the ranking both in terms of the number of applications, 211 projects, and in terms of combined investment value, 75.9 billion baht.

Investments from China came in second with 31.5 billion baht investment value, followed by US with 24.6 billion baht investment value.

The Eastern Economic Corridor, or EEC area, which comprises the provinces of Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao, attracted 453 projects applications filed by both local and foreign investors, worth a combined investment value of 208.7 billion baht.

Renewal of the measures to encourage the public listing of BOI-promoted companies

At a board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha today, the BOI approved to renew the incentives offered to BOI-promoted companies to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) or the Market for Alternative Investment (MAI) in order to get access to new funding sources, while participating to strengthen Thailand’s capital market and economy.

The scheme grants companies going public an additional 100% corporate income tax (CIT) exemption on the value of their investment (excluding cost of land and working capital).

Projects which have already been granted BOI promotion and have started to generate income can still apply for these additional privileges and benefits on the condition they still have valid CIT exemption rights.

To be granted these additional privileges and benefits, companies must submit their applications by the end of December 2022. The companies must get listed on the SET or MAI before applying for promotion, but companies listed prior to the announcement of the measure are not eligible to this scheme.

Source : www.boi.go.th

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Ontario spending ticks up by $2.6 billion amid ongoing pressure from pandemic


The expenses will be offset mainly with contingency funds, and the province says it has now ‘fully allocated’ its $13.3B in pandemic-related response and contingency funds

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The Ontario government says the COVID-19 pandemic is further driving up its already record levels of spending, prompting the province to take new steps to ensure it has emergency funding at the ready.

Ontario’s finances for the quarter ended Dec. 31 show that expenses are now expected to rise an additional $2.6 billion compared to what was forecast in its November budget, bringing total costs to $189.7 billion for the year ending March 31. The hike is attributed mostly to spending on hospitals, long-term care homes and support for lockdown-affected businesses.

Those added expenses are to be offset primarily with contingency funds, and the province says it has now “fully allocated” the $13.3-billion in pandemic-related response and contingency funds it had set aside in its fall spending plan.

An additional $2.1 billion is being put into the province’s standard contingency fund in case it’s needed, increasing it to approximately $4 billion. Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said these funds were essentially being freed up by drawing on the province’s fiscal reserve, which has been reduced to $500 million for the relatively short time left in 2020-21 from the $2.5 billion allocated there in the fall budget.

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“All of us know this level of spending is not sustainable in the long term,” Bethlenfalvy told reporters on Wednesday. “But defeating this virus, together, that is what’s most important right now.”

The finance minister’s comments come after the Ontario government took fire from opposition politicians claiming Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford was being stingy with spending during the pandemic. The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario had also said in December that, as of September’s end, the province had $12 billion in unallocated contingency funds.

But Bethlenfalvy said Wednesday that the provincial government is putting its contingencies to use.

Since the fall budget, $1.4 billion has been earmarked for a small-business support grant that would provide firms that have been locked down or face significant public-health restrictions with between $10,000 to $20,000 in financial help. Another $869 million has been set aside for hospitals, $609 million to help with the purchase of personal protective equipment and $398 million for the long-term care sector.

Ontario is still projecting it will run a record-setting $38.5-billion deficit for 2020-21, which is unchanged from its November budget forecast.

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However, the province’s long-term borrowing program for the 2020-21 fiscal year is now expected to be about $2.9 billion bigger, which includes $1.5 billion in “pre-borrowing” for next year. Total long-term borrowing for 2020-21 is forecast to be $55.2 billion, although interest on debt is anticipated to be unchanged from last year’s budget, at $12.5 billion.

Net debt is forecast to be approximately $399.5 billion, equal to 47.1 per cent of the province’s economic output, up only slightly from the fall budget.

Even so, Bethlenfalvy noted that much has happened since the province released its budget in November, including record-high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, a provincewide shutdown and the declaration of a second state of emergency.

Ontario’s third-quarter finances said that private-sector forecasters, on average, are now projecting the province’s real gross domestic product to have contracted by 5.9 per cent in 2020, better than the 6.5 per cent forecast in the fall budget. Yet for 2021, Ontario’s economy is now expected to expand by 4.5 per cent, weaker than the 4.9 per cent foreseen in the budget.

Another fiscal update is expected next month, when the province’s 2021 budget is set to be tabled.

“Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is not only necessary to protect our health, it is also the most sensible economic policy,” Bethlenfalvy said. “We will keep doing whatever it takes to protect the people of Ontario, using all our fiscal firepower to take us through this unprecedented crisis.”

In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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Tesla electrifies bitcoin with $US1.5 billion bet, car payments pledge


“I think we will see an acceleration of companies looking to allocate to bitcoin now that Tesla has made the first move,” said Eric Turner, vice-president of market intelligence at cryptocurrency research and data firm Messari.

“One of the largest companies in the world now owns bitcoin and by extension, every investor that owns Tesla (or even just an S&P 500 fund) has exposure to it as well.”

Bitcoin, which has set new record highs in recent months after a rollercoaster ride over the past decade, has also drawn support from major financial institutions this year. The world’s biggest money manager Blackrock recently changed a handful of investment mandates to allow some of its funds to invest in the currency.

Central banks remain sceptical of digital currencies, but analysts say the more real world uses appear for bitcoin, the more attractive it will prove as a long-term store of value.

Tesla said in a filing the decision was part of its broad investment policy as a company and was aimed at diversifying and maximising its returns on cash.

It said it had invested an aggregate $US1.5 billion in bitcoin under the changed policy and could “acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term”.

“He’s now putting his money (shareholders’) where his mouth is,” Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said.

“But given his recent comments – and adding #Bitcoin to his Twitter bio on January 29th – it also raises a real question about possible market manipulation.”

Bitcoin surged more than 10 per cent on Monday to a record high of $US43,625 after Tesla’s disclosure.

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Musk has also endorsed other cryptocurrencies in the recent past. He gave dogecoin, the coin based on a popular internet meme, a shoutout on Twitter last week sending its price to record highs over the weekend.

Late on Sunday, in a fresh endorsement for the cyptocurrency, Musk tweeted “Who let the Doge Out” – mimicking lines from the famous song by Baha Men from the year 2000.

The coin has also received attention from California rapper Snoop Dogg by putting up an image of a dog tagged “Snoop Doge” on his Twitter timeline.

Dogecoin was created largely as a satirical critique of the 2013 crypto frenzy and is not taken as seriously as bitcoin or ethereum. It almost doubled since Friday hitting a record $US0.0871, according to data on blockchain and cryptocurrency website Coindesk.

Reuters

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New Ponzi scheme may have put $2.2 billion at risk


‘All a lie’

William McGovern, a lawyer for Gentile, declined to comment on the allegations. The firm’s website had been taken down on Thursday, and a spokesperson couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

“The defendants misrepresented the holdings of GPB Capital through deceptive marketing practices, luring investors with promises of monthly distributions that would be covered by funds from the investments and not drawn from underlying invested capital,” William Sweeney, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office, said in a statement.

“As we allege today, however, this was all a lie,” Sweeney said. “In truth, a significant portion of GPB’s distributions were paid directly from investor funds.”

The indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday. Gentile, 54, the New York investment advisory firm’s founder and chief executive officer, was charged with conspiracy, securities and wire fraud and arrested in Boston. At an initial court appearance, he was released on a $US500,000 bond co-signed by his wife and directed to surrender firearms he has at his homes in Manhasset, New York, and Clearwater, Florida.

Gentile faces as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges, including securities fraud, as well as a fine of as much as $US5 million on the securities fraud count, Assistant US Attorney Amanda Beck told the court.

‘Aura of success’

GPB used the funds to subsidise private planes and luxury travel for the three executives, according to a separate lawsuit on Thursday by New York Attorney General Letitia James, one of several state AGs to file suit. Payments went to their personal bank accounts and to family members, and Gentile even purchased a Ferrari with the money, James alleged.

In the SEC’s complaint, also filed in Brooklyn, the regulator called the firm’s work “an illusion.”

“GPB Capital projected an aura of success, touting that it consistently made an 8 per cent annualised distribution payment to investors, as well as periodic ‘special distributions’ ranging from 0.5 to 3 per cent,” the SEC said. In reality, it claimed, the firm “used investor funds to cover the shortfall between funds from operations of the portfolio companies and the amount needed to make an annualised 8 per cent distribution payment.”

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The SEC also says GPB violated whistle-blower protection laws by including language in termination and separation agreements that barred two former employees from coming forward to the regulator and by retaliating against a third who complained to the SEC.

Alternative asset manager

The alleged scheme went from August 2015 to December 2018, according to the indictment, which also names Jeffrey Lash, 51, of Naples, Florida, a former managing director at GPB, and Jeffrey Schneider, 52, of Austin, Texas, the owner of GPB’s placement agent Ascendant Capital.

Kevin Galbraith, a lawyer for Lash, and Glenn Colton, a lawyer for Schneider, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the case.

GPB, founded in 2013, has described itself as an alternative asset manager that acted as general partner and manager for other funds, which invest in businesses from automotive retail to waste management to health care, according to the SEC.

The firm hasn’t delivered audited financial statements for the limited partnership funds to investors for more than four years and is more than three years delinquent in registering two of the funds, the regulator said.

Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Stanford’s racket involved fraudulent certificates of deposit tied to a private Caribbean bank that offered a return federal prosecutors said was “too good to be true.” He is currently serving 110 years in prison.

Bloomberg

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