Minneapolis hedge fund manager Steven Markusen and his company have been ordered to pay over $800,000 for bilking investors out of more than $1 million, rigging invoices for fees and manipulating the price of a Twin Cities tech stock.
The Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2014 sued Markusen and his Wayzata company, Archer Advisors, alleging fraud and various reporting violations. Markusen never responded to the suit, so the SEC entered a default judgment against him and Archer.
The judgment was granted this week by Judge Michael Davis in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Markusen, who was 60 when sued by the SEC, and Archer are permanently enjoined from future securities law violations and must pay back ill-gotten gains — including interest — of $716,361, according to Davis' order. Also, the court ordered Markusen and Archer to each pay a civil penalty of $100,000.
Getting that money may be another story. The SEC has said in court that Archer is defunct and that Markusen had indicated he did not have the means to pay.
Essentially, the court accepted the SEC's allegations because Markusen and Archer "have failed to answer or otherwise appear in this matter." Markusen could not be reached for comment.
At the same time the SEC sued Markusen, it lodged similar claims against his business partner Jay Cope of Shorewood. Cope has denied the allegations.
Markusen and Archer Advisors, which was formed in 2002, ran two hedge funds with more than 60 investors and $36 million under management.
According to the SEC, Markusen and Cope collected phony research expenses and fees from 2008 until 2013, when Archer closed. For instance, Markusen billed his two funds $500,000 in purported expenses, mostly research.
Markusen used ill-gotten gains for personal expenses, including country club dues, a Lexus and tuition for a Connecticut boarding school, the SEC suit said.
Also, the government said that in 2010, Markusen and Cope began pumping up the stock of one the funds' largest holdings, CyberOptics, a company that makes a product for circuit board and semiconductor manufacturing.
Markusen and Cope allegedly made last-minute buy orders on the final trading day of the month, artificially inflating the price of the thinly traded CyberOptics.