Securities and Exchange Commission v. Ronald E. Walblay, Energy Securities, Inc., and RyHolland Fielder, Inc., Civil Action No. 9:13-cv-80978 (S.D. FL.)
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently charged the owner of two Florida-based companies with defrauding investors in five oil and gas offerings by misrepresenting such key facts as the amount of available reserves, the use of investor funds, and his past success in the oil and gas industry.
The SEC alleges that Ronald Walblay of Delray Beach, Fla., perpetrated the fraud through RyHolland Fielder Inc., which has managed a number of oil and gas limited partnerships, and his former brokerage firm Energy Securities Inc., which sold the partnerships’ interests – none of which were registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws. Walblay raised at least $12 million from more than 195 U.S. and foreign investors by falsely touting in sales brochures that RyHolland Fielder offered millions of barrels of oil and natural gas reserves. Walblay also falsely touted in offering materials that investors could receive potential returns of up to 2,270 percent. Meanwhile, not a single investor had ever profited from any of the partnerships, and Walblay used a greater percentage of investor funds than was disclosed to pay salaries and marketing expenses for investor conferences.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the unregistered securities offerings by Walblay and his firms were in Basin Oil L.P., Basin Oil HV L.P., Great Plains Oil L.P., Permian Basin Oil L.P., and Texas Permian Oil LLLP. They solicited investors from approximately January 2009 to November 2012.
The SEC alleges that in some offerings Walblay falsely portrayed to investors that RyHolland Fielder offered billions of cubic feet of natural gas reserves in place. Walblay, Energy Securities, and RyHolland lacked any basis to make this statement to investors because no such reserves existed.
The SEC further alleges that the offering materials for the limited partnerships misled investors about the use of proceeds. For example, contrary to the statements made in documents distributed to investors, money raised from investors in the Permian Basin Oil L.P. offering were partly used to pay expenses incurred in the prior oil and gas offerings.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Walblay exaggerated his past success in the industry. For instance, he told investors that a prior offering he conducted in 1991 featured a well that produced more than 100,000 barrels of oil in less than 45 days. There was no basis to make this statement.
The SEC’s complaint charges Energy Securities, RyHolland, and Walblay with violating Sections 5(a) and (c) and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The complaint also charges Walblay with aiding and abetting violations of Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5. The SEC seeks financial penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and permanent injunctions.
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