A judge has frozen the assets of a missing Atlanta financial advisor who’s been charged by the FBI and the SEC with running a promissory note scam that cost investors millions of dollars, while representatives for his wife say she took no part in the operation of his companies, according to news reports.
Christopher Burns disappeared on September 24 in the middle of an SEC investigation into him and at least one of his firms. By late October, the FBI charged Burns with wire fraud, saying it was connected to bogus promissory notes that cost his victims hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A class action suit then claimed that Burns swindled more than 90 investors out of more than $5 million. And an SEC suit filed earlier this week says investors lost around $10 million through Burns’ scam, which involved a “sham” peer-to-peer lending program, as reported.
Burns allegedly used the money to cover his personal expenses and to buy air time for his radio show so that he could lift his status as a financial advisor, the SEC says in its complaint, which sought an asset freeze.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has granted the asset freeze, according to WSB-TV Atlanta.
In its claim against Christopher Burns, the SEC had also named his wife as a relief defendant.
Meredith Burns was married to Christopher Burns throughout the period during which he sold the promissory notes but the two entered into divorce proceedings the day before his disappearance, according to the SEC.
The divorce agreement transferred many of the couple’s joint assets to her. On the following day, Christopher Burns also transferred his share of their home to her, the SEC said.
Meredith Burns’ representatives have issued a statement on Wednesday cited by WSB-TV, saying that she “played no part in the operations of the companies and the government has therefore not made any such allegations, which is why Meredith has been listed as a relief defendant and not an actual defendant in the SEC complaint. She continues to cooperate fully and consistently with all law enforcement authorities.”
“We acknowledge the court’s process for resolving issues such as this and look forward to a day when there is resolution on the question of assets. At this point, the government, Ms. Burns, and everyone involved are attempting to determine the origins and nature of all funds involved,” the representatives say, according to WSB-TV. “The SEC has filed its initial complaint and we are working diligently to come to a fair and equitable agreement of terms.”
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