SEC alledges bogus corporate bonds sold
DALLAS – A money manager for college basketball coaches who committed suicide last month was part of a scheme that defrauded more than 100 investors of $39 million through the sale of bogus corporate bonds, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a lawsuit Monday.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Houston, targets the estate of David Salinas and asks that it and other defendants give up funds and benefits they allegedly obtained illegally through the bond scheme and another involving two private funds. The SEC also is seeking an undetermined amount in penalties.
In a related action Monday, the Texas State Securities Board filed documents seeking to revoke the brokerage license of a Salinas associate, Brian Bjork, for his involvement in the alleged schemes.
Salinas, 60, was found dead of a gunshot wound in his home in the Houston suburb of Friendswood on July 17.
The death has shined a light on how dozens of high-profile college basketball coaches invested millions through Salinas, who also operated an AAU basketball program for highly-recruited high school players. According to SI.com, more than a dozen coaches are believed to have lost more than $7.8 million. Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few and GU assistant Ray Giacoletti are among those coaches who invested with Salinas, SI.com has reported.
The SEC suit alleges that Bjork and Salinas engaged in a seven-year scheme in which they sold corporate bonds to investors that “in reality” were bogus. Investors were promised yields of up to 9 percent and were provided account statements for the nonexistent bonds, the suit states.
The SEC also contends that Bjork raised an additional $13 million from at least 52 investors for two private funds that made improper loans totaling $3.4 million to affiliated parties, including some controlled by Salinas. Investors were told the funds would be used to build a commercial loan portfolio and were never informed of the related-party transactions, according to the suit.
The Texas securities board seeks the revocation of Bjork’s license on several grounds, including the alleged bond scheme.
Bjork “knew or was reckless in not knowing” that the bonds were never purchased, and his misrepresentations constitute a “fraudulent business practice,” the filing states. The document also cites Bjork’s involvement in the creation of the two private investment funds that allegedly made improper loans to affiliated parties
In addition to his business ties to Salinas, Bjork also serves as a director of the nonprofit organization that operates Salinas’ AAU basketball program, Houston Select.
Bjork’s attorney, Matt Hennessey of Houston, did not respond to a phone message from The Associated Press.