SEC Charges Company and CEO for $119 Million Securities Fraud Targeting Members of the South Asian American Community
Washington D.C., Dec. 21, 2020 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it filed an emergency action against California-based real estate development company SiliconSage Builders LLC, aka Silicon Sage Builders, and its sole owner, Sanjeev Acharya, in connection with an alleged $119 million fraudulent offering.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Silicon Sage Builders and Acharya raised money from approximately 250 retail investors, most of whom were members of the Northern California South Asian community, by falsely describing Silicon Sage Builders’ real estate business as profitable and promising investors exorbitant returns. In fact, as the complaint alleges, from 2016 to 2019, all but one of Silicon Sage Builders’ projects had significant cost overruns and did not generate enough money to pay investors the promised returns. Acharya, as alleged in the complaint, misled investors into believing the payments they received were derived from Silicon Sage Builders’ profits when, in reality, Silicon Sage Builders and Acharya had used new investor funds to pay earlier investors. The complaint also alleges that Acharya misled investors as to the amount of money the company was attempting to raise and falsely told investors they could redeem their investments despite there being insufficient funds to meet redemption requests.
“As we allege in our complaint, wrongdoers sometimes prey on the trust of members of their communities to raise funds for their fraudulent schemes,” said Alka Patel, Associate Regional Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “Affinity frauds are particularly harmful to retail investors, and this case demonstrates the SEC’s commitment to pursuing such schemes and protecting retail investors.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, charges Silicon Sage Builders and Acharya with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, the appointment of a receiver over Silicon Sage Builders, asset freezes, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and financial penalties against the defendants, as well as an order prohibiting the destruction of documents and an accounting.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Tamar Braz and Christopher Conte in the Los Angeles Regional Office and supervised by Marc Blau and Alka Patel. The SEC’s litigation is being led by Michael Sew Hoy and Amy Longo.
The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy encourages investors to review its investor alert on affinity fraud, Have Something in Common with Someone Selling an Investment? It May Make You a Target for Fraud. Additional information is available on Investor.gov and SEC.gov.