SEC Issues Fraud Charges and Freezes Accounts of Miami-Based Firm

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against Miami Beach-based asset management company Onix Capital and owner Alberto Chang-Rajii, a Chilean national who fled the U.S. earlier in 2016.

The agency alleged in the complaint that Chang and Onix Capital defrauded investors in promissory notes that “guaranteed” annual returns of 12% to 19% and bilked others who were told their funds would be invested in promising start-ups. Also Chang and Onix Capital are alleged to have falsely depicted Chang as an award-winning multi-millionaire “angel” investor with an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

According to the SEC, the scheme began to unravel in March when reports published in the U.S. and Chile exposed the misrepresentations by Chang and Onix Capital. Chang fled to Malta and transferred roughly $4 million, including Onix Capital investor funds, to banks in Malta, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Australia.

Chang and Onix Capital sold more than $5.7 million in Onix promissory notes that they falsely claimed were guaranteed by Chang, and raised more than $1.7 million that Chang promised to invest in companies such as Uber, Snapchat, and Square. Instead, these investor funds were allegedly diverted to Chang and used to pay other investors.

The SEC’s complaint charges Chang and Onix Capital with fraud and seeks return of allegedly ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties, among other relief for investors. Judge Marcia G. Cooke granted the SEC’s request for a temporary asset freeze against Onix Capital, Chang, and various relief defendants, and a hearing will be set by the court.

Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, commented:

According to our complaint, Chang and Onix Capital guaranteed returns and touted Chang’s wealth and investment success to entice investors. However, Onix’s purported investment revenue was non-existent and Chang’s claims about his background were not true.