Former Chief Operating Officer Of Asset Management Company Arrested For Defrauding The Company And Its Clients
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, the Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, announced that RICHARD DIVER was arrested on fraud charges in connection with his embezzlement from the asset management company where he worked as Chief Operating Officer. Specifically, DIVER has been charged with investment advisor fraud in connection with his fraudulently overbilling the company’s clients by hundreds of thousands of dollars in fake management fees and rerouting those funds to his personal account, and with wire fraud for fraudulently diverting millions of dollars from the company’s payroll funds to his personal account over a period of several years. DIVER was arrested today in Manhattan, and was presented before Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker in Manhattan Federal Court.
Manhattan U.S. Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Richard Diver occupied a position of great responsibility and great trust at the asset management company that employed him. As alleged, he betrayed that trust, stealing from the company and defrauding its clients, all to fund his lavish personal spending. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to root out fraud wherever it is found.”
Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “Mr. Diver allegedly used his position of trust to overcharge his clients to fund his spending habits and lavish lifestyle. In situations such as these, no one believes they will get caught; but when you allegedly cheat your clients and use the US Mail to facilitate a lie, be forewarned—Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners will eventually uncover your unlawful deeds and bring you to justice.”
As alleged in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan Federal Court:
DIVER was the Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) of a Manhattan-based asset management company (“Company-1”) that offers its customers investment planning and wealth management services. As COO, DIVER’s responsibilities included overseeing the company’s payroll and billing functions.
Beginning in 2011 and continuing into December 2018, DIVER fraudulently caused Company-1’s third-party payroll vendor to pay him salary significantly beyond his authorized salary and bonus. Over that period, DIVER caused over $4.5 million to be routed to his personal checking account above and beyond his approved compensation.
In 2017, DIVER also began to defraud Company-1’s clients. Typically, Company-1 billed its clients quarterly, in most cases having been authorized by the clients to deduct its investment advisory fees directly from their custodial accounts. DIVER began to cause an employee to run the billing process, which was based on a fixed percentage of the assets the clients had under the company’s management, at off-cycle intervals as to certain clients in addition to the regularly quarterly billing process. These billings were not accompanied by any notice to the clients. The clients affected by this practice therefore had their accounts debited twice, but were only notified of the single legitimate billing in periodic reports and correspondence from the company. DIVER routed the excess funds to his own personal bank accounts through the company’s payroll system. Through this mechanism, DIVER defrauded the clients of over $700,000.
In December 2018, certain clients noticed the overbilling and complained to Company-1’s president, who confronted him. DIVER admitted to the Company-1 president both fraudulent practices, stating that the funds he had stolen were consumed by his own “wild” spending. More recently, law enforcement agents recorded a conversation in which DIVER acknowledged having defrauded the company of $4.5 million through the payroll fraud and certain clients of over $700,000 through the billing fraud.
DIVER, 62 of New York New York, is charged with one count of investment advisor fraud and one count of wire fraud. The wire fraud count carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The investment advisor fraud count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. The maximum potential penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and thanked the New York Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has filed a civil action against DIVER in a separate action.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Martin S. Bell is in charge of the prosecution.
The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.