The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority expelled MICG Investment Management of Newport News, Va., and barred its chief executive and majority owner, Jeffrey A. Martinovich, from the securities industry.
The move, signaled in February and announced Thursday, follows what the independent regulator of brokers said was misuse of a hedge fund, for personal enrichment of Martinovich and general enrichment of the company.
Martinovich has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a procedure which will liquidate whatever assets he possesses.
The abuse stems from management of a proprietary hedge fund named MICG Venture Strategies. MICG and Martinovich organized, controlled and managed the hedge fund. FINRA alleged that the firm and its CEO misused investor funds and caused false account statements to be issued to them.
“MICG and Martinovich used the proprietary hedge fund to unjustly enrich themselves,’’ said Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement. “This extreme abuse of trust … demonstrated their unfitness for participation in the industry.”
FINRA found that MICG and Martinovich improperly assigned excessive asset values to two privately held securities owned by Venture Strategies, and used the excessive asset values as the basis for paying unjustified management and incentive performance fees.
At the outset of March, Martinovich entered a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, seeking to erase $14 million of personal and business-related debts, the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., reported.
The largest single liability in Martinovich's filing is a $900,000 guarantee for an office lease in Norfolk. Other claims involve individuals, including 18 MICG shareholders. Those claims added up to $4.8 million.
Martinovich's assets totaled $3.73 million, and mainly included three pieces of residential property jointly owned with his estranged wife. In a breakdown of his personal property, Martinovich also lists a 2007 Bentley automobile, valued at $72,895, and a 1998 BMW 750, valued at $3,700, the report said.
The properties include a $2 million waterfront home on the James River in Newport News, a $247,500 rental property in Newport News and a share of a $1.4 million oceanfront mansion in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Lenders hold liens on all three properties.
The expulsion of MICG is anticlimactic. The firm closed last May, when its troubles with regulators mounted.
MICG and Martinovich neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
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