ILNews

Hauke accounting firm to pay $1.8M in fraud settlement

Jeff Newman
July 23, 2014
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DeWitt & Shrader PC, an Indianapolis-based accounting firm that worked for convicted Ponzi schemer Keenan Hauke, has agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle a state lawsuit, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced Tuesday.

Hauke, a prominent money manager from Fishers who led hedge fund Samex Capital Partners LLC, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December 2011 for securities fraud.

DeWitt & Shrader served as the accounting firm for Samex from January 2006 until April 2011.

The lawsuit claims the accounting firm violated the Indiana Securities Act and committed negligence and fraud, as well as breach of contract, by failing to monitor Hauke’s bank accounts.

“While Hauke was the perpetrator of this scheme, DeWitt & Shrader gave his scam credibility,” Lawson said in a prepared statement. “As the fund’s accountants, they had a responsibility to the investors to check Hauke’s work before issuing client account and tax statements.”

David M. DeWitt, principal of DeWitt & Shrader, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

When the suit was filed against his firm in 2012, DeWitt told IBJ he thought the complaint was without merit and he planned to fight it. He eventually agreed to settle.

“Accountants or other licensed professionals who also hold securities licenses cannot afford to turn a blind eye if they see or suspect securities fraud,” Indiana Securities Commissioner Carol Mihalik said in a prepared statement. “They have an obligation to take action and in this case, they did nothing.”

Hauke admitted to masking huge losses in the hedge fund he operated that resulted in dozens of investors losing millions of dollars. He was 41 when he was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $7.1 million in restitution.

A state-appointed receiver, William E. Wendling Jr., has since estimated the losses at more than $9 million and the number of victims at close to 100.

“The funds secured from this settlement will go toward repaying Hauke’s victims,” Lawson said. “Helping Hoosier victims is always our No. 1 priority and we will continue to work to maximize their restitution.”

Lawson said the state has returned more than $1 million to 97 investors so far. The funds were recovered through asset freezes, liquidation of Hauke’s accounts, and clawback litigation against Samex investors who made false profits from Hauke’s scheme.

The receiver also plans to sell a condo in Barbados worth about $360,000 that Hauke purchased with investor money.

Lawson said four Hauke victims also received $42,000 from the state’s Securities Restitution Fund.

Before his guilty plea, Hauke was a high-profile wealth manager who made regular appearances on CNBC, Fox Business Network, Bloomberg Television and Bloomberg Radio. He also wrote an investing column for IBJ.

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  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

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  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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