NHL gets subpoena in Trevor Cook fraud case

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 3, 2010 - 7:22 AM

A receiver in the high-profile local fraud case seeks hockey's records about a Swiss firm.

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Jason Beckman, a former associate of Trevor Cook, still is being investigated.

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What information does the National Hockey League have in its files about the Michigan owner of a ladies' swimsuit company?

That's what the court-appointed receiver who's been hunting down assets from Trevor Cook's $190 million Ponzi scheme wants to find out.

In a move that could portend headaches for Wayzata money manager Jason (Bo) Beckman, the receiver revealed in recent court filings that he's been seeking records from the NHL. The materials, which were just turned over, pertain to Beckman's aborted bid to buy a piece of the Minnesota Wild.

The receivership is "investigating the disposition of assets" that were given to Beckman, James D. Pieron Jr. of Mount Pleasant, Mich. -- who owns a defunct Swiss software company, a luxury swimsuit company and several other entities -- and several other former associates of Cook.

"We are trying to track down receivership assets," said receiver R.J. Zayed, an attorney with Carlson, Caspers, Vandenburgh & Lindquist in Minneapolis.

He said he's hoping to find information in Beckman's bid for the Wild that not only reflects any receivership assets he might have had, but also those that were held by Pieron.

Pieron collected about $50 million from Cook and his associates for various offshore business ventures, most of which have allegedly gone bust. But $15 million of that remains unaccounted for, Zayed said, and he wants to know where the money went.

Beckman's NHL bid may help solve the puzzle, in that Beckman had to submit financial information as part of his effort.

Solving a complex puzzle

Beckman, a former business partner of Cook's, invested in his fraudulent currency program and collected commissions for routing clients to it. He was trying to buy into the Wild when Cook's fraud scheme spun out of control in late 2008 and early 2009, but he ultimately abandoned the bid.

Cook, 38, of Apple Valley, was sentenced in August to 25 years in prison on federal fraud and tax charges. Since then, he's been meeting with federal investigators, regulators and receivership experts who are trying to unravel his scheme.

Beckman, 40, of Plymouth, has not been charged, nor is he subject to the receivership in the Cook case. He has claimed that he and his relatives were duped along with Cook's other investors.

In reviewing Beckman's NHL bid, Zayed is looking for information about JDFX Technologies, Pieron's Swiss software firm, and his other entities. JDFX sold software packages for the foreign currency exchange industry. Pieron, 41, also set up an offshore hedge fund, a holding company and other entities with similar names.

Cook alleged in a lawsuit last year that Beckman tried to inflate his net worth in his NHL application by claiming assets he didn't own, including the Van Dusen mansion in Minneapolis, where they both kept offices. Beckman's former attorney called the Van Dusen allegations "ridiculous" at the time.

Now, the receivership is looking into whether Beckman claimed to own part of JDFX, and if so, whether he submitted documents to establish the firm's value as part of his Wild bid.

No comments

Beckman did not respond to e-mails or phone messages seeking comment this week. His attorney, W. Patrick Judge, had no comment.

Pieron, who returned to the United States after his Swiss firm went bankrupt last year, did not respond to messages or e-mails. He now has another software company called IB Technologies, which is based in Mount Pleasant near Central Michigan University, where he is an alumnus.

The plot gets Kompliquéted

Public records show that he also is the registered agent for a high-end Swiss swimsuit company called Kompliqué Inc., which has its headquarters in Geneva. The swimsuits have been featured in Sports Illustrated and are found in tony shops like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Victoria's Secret. News accounts in Michigan described Pieron as the owner of the company after a January fashion show featuring Central Michigan University swimsuit models.

In an exchange of e-mails between Cook and Pieron in July 2008, Cook indicated that one of his companies, MarketShot, had bought shares in JDFX. Cook discussed transferring the shares into the name of Oxford Global Advisors, which he owned as a partner with Beckman and two other associates.

It's unclear from the e-mails whether the transfer took place, but if it did, it's possible that Beckman submitted a statement to the NHL about the value of JDFX.

Court records show that Cook sent $38 million to Pieron's companies, only $13 million of which came back out. "There's $25 million that is unaccounted for; nine of it appears to be trading losses, but that still leaves $15 million with unknown whereabouts," Zayed said. "And there's also questions if the receivership has an ownership interest in not only JDFX, but also Kompliqué."

Two lawsuits are settled

In other matters, Beckman just settled lawsuits with two Minneapolis law firms that formerly represented him in connection with the Cook investigation. Greene Espel and Kelly & Berens sued him in Hennepin County District Court in June for failing to pay more than $562,000 in legal bills.

The Greene Espel case had been scheduled for a summary judgment motion Friday, which was canceled, as was a similar motion scheduled for Dec. 14 by Kelly & Berens.

And the receiver filed motions in federal court this week seeking approval of a settlement reached with Twin Cities money managers Robert Brooke, Steven Schwab, Paul Deming and Thomas Newberry, who had been exploring a business affiliation with Cook when his Ponzi scheme collapsed in July 2009.

If approved by the court, as expected, the receiver will get $300,000 that has been frozen in a commodity pool account at ADM Investor Services Inc.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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