Fugitive Georgian investment adviser ordered to pay $12m
A financial adviser on the run for nearly two years has been ordered to pay $12 million to his victims in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.
Default judgment was recently entered in a lawsuit filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission against Christopher Burns and his companies: Investus Advisers LLC, which did business as Dynamic Money; Investus Financial LLC and Peer Connect LLC. And Burns, if found, also faces a civil penalty of $652,629.
It’s unclear, however, how many, if any, Burns’ victims will ever see, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The once prominent investment adviser is on the FBI’s most wanted list, accused of defrauding his clients of millions of dollars. The day he disappeared — September 25, 2020 — was the day he was supposed to hand over documents about his transactions to SEC regulators.
Federal court documents say there was money in various bank accounts for his businesses, frozen by court order after he disappeared. And Burns’ ex-wife has agreed to return $320,000 in funds he transferred to her.
But federal officials say most of the investors’ money was spent funding Burns’ lifestyle, covering business expenses and repaying previous investors, to make the investments he sold look like were profitable.
Burns had a high profile in the Atlanta metro area. He had a weekly radio show, the Chris Burns Show, and appeared on television offering financial advice. But the SEC lawsuit said that for years Burns had sold fraudulent promissory notes to more than 90 investors in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.
The notes, he claimed, were for a “peer to peer” lending program, where businesses in need of capital borrowed money. In return, Burns told investors the companies would repay the principal, plus interest of up to 20%. He also told clients that the investment posed little or no risk because the loans were secured dollar-for-dollar by securities put in place by the companies.
Federal officials said the loan program was a scam.
A federal criminal complaint is still pending against Burns, accusing him of mail fraud. There has been no action in this case since October 23, 2020, when it was filed.
The SEC declined a request for comment from the newspaper. Lawyers representing the investors in a separate lawsuit did not respond to a request for comment, the newspaper said.