Feb. 19--An investment firm in West Palm Beach and its owner must pay nearly $1.6 million in penalties and return $4.7 million to about 200 customers it cheated on precious-metals transactions, federal regulators say.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed charges Tuesday against Worth Asset Management and its 27-year-old owner, Paul L. Kaulesar of Royal Palm Beach.
Without admitting guilt, Kaulesar and his firm waived a hearing and agreed to a permanent ban on trading. Worth Asset Management's telephone number has been disconnected, and Kaulesar did not return a voicemail to his personal phone Tuesday afternoon.
Kaulesar and his firm were accused in a federal administrative order of solicitation fraud and engaging in illegal, off-exchange transactions, mostly in silver.
From July 2011 to March 2013, telemarketers told Worth Assets' "unsophisticated, individual investors" that they could pay as little as 20 percent down and get a loan for the balance, the order said. The clients were assured "they could earn significant potential profits" through the financed precious metal transactions, the order said. But the reality was that more than 88 percent of customers lost money, regulators said.
Worth Asset and Kaulesar weren't registered with the commodities commission as required, a commission spokesman said.
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