G. Steven Burrill and his financial services firm have agreed to repay $4.785 million, plus pay a $1 million penalty, to settle federal charges that he siphoned money from a fund managed by the firm.
Burrill and his Burrill Capital Management agreed to the settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said today that its investigation found Burrill to have taken money from his Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III under the guise of “advanced” management fees.
Burrill was removed in March 2014 as general partner of the fund by 13 institutional investors who alleged the fund engaged in willful or reckless misconduct. The institutional investors included businesses such as Monsanto, Unilever, and Celgene, as well as the Oregon Investment Fund and the Treasury of the State of North Carolina.
The $4.785 million removed from the fund was instead used to sustain other struggling businesses he owned, the SEC said, as well as support a “lavish” lifestyle that included family vacations to St. Barts and Paris as well as jewelry, gifts, car service, and private jets.
“Burrill spent his fund’s capital on whatever he pleased, and elevated his own interests above those of investors,” Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, said in a statement.
Burrill also agreed to be permanently barred from the securities industry.
The SEC’s investigation also found that Burrill Capital Management’s chief legal officer Victor A. Hebert and controller Helena C. Sen played integral roles in Burrill’s actions.
According to the SEC, Hebert led investment committee meetings and agreed to call in additional capital from fund investors while knowing the money would be spent on expenses unrelated to the fund. And on at least two instances, Burrill and Sen delayed distribution of payments owed to fund investors so money could instead be used to continue paying Burrill’s personal expenses as well as the salaries of Hebert and Sen, the agency said.
Hebert and Sen agreed to pay penalties of $185,000 and $90,000, respectively. They also are barred from the securities industry.
Burrill, his firm, Hebert, and Sen agreed to the settlements without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations.
Additionally, Burrill and Sen are permanently suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as accountants, which includes not participating in the financial reporting or audits of public companies. Hebert is permanently suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as an attorney, the agency added.
Burrill, a onetime audit partner, in 1994 established a financial services firm bearing his name that focused on financing of biotech and other life sciences businesses.