SEC Settles Cherry-Picking Case against Hedge Fund Manager Howard Berger

SEC v. Howard Brett Berger and Michelle Berger, Case No. CV-12-4728 (E.D.N.Y.).  On February 12, 2013, the SEC announced it settled an enforcement action brought in September 2012.  The SEC alleged Howard Berger (“Berger”) was a founder and manager of Professional Traders Management, LLC and Professional Offshore Traders Management, LLC, which managed and acted as investment advisers for hedge funds Professional Traders Fund, LLC (“PTF”) and Professional Offshore Opportunity Fund (“POOF”).  Berger was involved in fraudulently “cherry-picking” trade allocations, meaning he cherry picked profitable trades from PTF and allocated those trades to his wife’s brokerage account.  Berger would also allocate unprofitable trades to PTF and POOF.  Through cherry picking allocations, Berger made at least $6.8 million in profits.  Berger’s wife, Michelle Berger, is named as a relief defendant because she received profits Berger generated from his misconduct.  The Bergers settled with the SEC without admitting or denying the allegations of the Complaint.  They consented to entry of an order enjoining Berger from violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5, thereunder, and Sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Advisers Act and Rule 206(4)-8, thereunder.  The Bergers will pay disgorgement of $5,399,456.16.  In addition, Berger will pay another $1,433,521.84 in disgorgement, $22,776 in prejudgment interest, and a $50,000 civil monetary penalty.  In a separate administrative proceeding, Berger consented to an SEC Order barring him from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, or transfer agent.

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