Sheik Khan Charged with VGTel Fraud by SEC

On January 6, 2016 the SEC charged Sheik Khan (aka Abida Khan,) a registered representative formerly with Ameritas Investment Corp. out of Murrieta, CA with violations of Section 10 of the Exchange Act and Rule 10(b)(5) and Section 206 of the Advisors Act.

The complaint against Sheik Khan arises from a claim the SEC brought against Edward Durante, who is accused of defrauding at least 50 unsophisticated investors of $11 million through the sale of securities of VGTel, Inc., a shell company he controlled.

According to the SEC’s complaint Edward Durante defrauded investors by selling approximately six million shares of VGTel stock to investors using a fictitious name to hide his criminal past and lying to investors regarding the use of stock sale proceeds.  Durante also bribed investment advisers, who advised their clients to purchase VGTel stock without disclosing to their clients that they had been bribed. Durante also engaged in matched trading of VGTel stock with a stockbroker to artificially control the stock’s market price.

The complaint alleges that from 2009 up through and including in or about March 2015, Durante, along with Larry Werbel and Sheik Khan perpetrated a scheme to defraud more than 100 investors of at least $15 million by soliciting funds in public and private shares of various securities, including VGTL, through false and misleading representations and omissions and by failing to invest investors’ funds as promised.

The Defendants further manipulated the public Over-The-Counter market of VGTL stock by controlling a majority of the public shares, inducing investors to buy stock based on false representations and omissions, and engaging in trades in which the Defendants controlled both the accounts that purchased the stock and the accounts that sold the stock in order to artificially inflate the stock price and trading volume.  Of the approximately $15 million invested in the fraudulent scheme, more than $9 million was funneled to the Defendants and other co-conspirators.

Sheik Khan was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of investment adviser fraud.  Count One carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  Counts Two through Five each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The charges also carry a maximum fine of $5 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

The above allegations contained in the SEC’s complaint have not been proven, and the issuance of a complaint represents the SEC’s initiation of a formal proceeding in which findings as to the allegations in the complaint have not been made, and does not represent a decision as to any of the allegations contained in the complaint.

 Sheik Khan registration and disciplinary history

In order to lawfully sell investments to the public, one must either be registered or exempt from registration. Sheik Khan was registered with:

05/2002 – 12/2013
AMERITAS INVESTMENT CORP. (CRD# 14869) – MURRIETA, CA
02/1994 – 06/2002
PRUCO SECURITIES CORPORATION (CRD# 5685) – NEWARK, NJ

According to FINRA’s CRD disclosure report, Sheik Khan has been the subject of one regulatory investigation.

The Law Office of David Liebrader practices exclusively in the field of investment loss recovery. For the past 23 years, we have dedicated our law practice to assisting investors who have been victims of investment fraud via fraudulent and unsuitable investment transactions. During that time we have recovered money for over one thousand individuals, pension plans, trusts and companies. The recoveries we have obtained via judgments, awards and settlements on behalf of our clients exceed $40,000,000.

When investors contact our firm they can expect prompt attention, and a detailed analysis of their issues. Typical claims that we are asked to review involve “unsuitability (where a financial advisor makes investment recommendations that are inconsistent with a customer’s investment objectives), claims for “churning” (where a broker enters into an excessive number of trades for the purpose of generating commissions), claims involving illiquid investments such as private placements (I.e., real estate investment trusts, limited partnerships, equipment leasing and oil and gas drilling programs) as well as claims for violations of state securities laws, which often provide investors remedies like attorney’s fees and interest, if they are successful on the claim.

Since a Supreme Court ruling in the 1980s, most investment related disputes between brokerage firms and their customers have been filed in an arbitration forum hosted by FINRA Dispute Resolution. FINRA, along with the SEC, serves as a securities industry “watchdog” and regulator. Most brokerage firms require their clients to sign binding arbitration agreements, mandating that any disputes between them be arbitrated at FINRA.

Investors pursuing claims at FINRA typically advance claims related to suitability. FINRA rules require that all registered representatives make suitable investment recommendations to their clients. Other claims are based on negligence or breach of fiduciary duty, while another category includes claims based on misrepresentations and fraud. Most claims filed with FINRA are resolved within 15 months, and oftentimes, the cases are resolved via settlement or mediation in under a year.

FINRA’s rules require that all investment recommendations made by licensed financial advisors be suitable in light of a customer’s needs, objectives and risk tolerance. In addition, all registered representatives are required to be properly supervised, with periodic inspections and reviews by qualified supervisors, whose job it is to vigorously investigate suspicions of wrongdoing (red flags).

If you suspect that you have been the victim of investment fraud, or had a financial advisor recommend unsuitable investments to you, call us today for a free, confidential consultation at (702) 380-3131.