SEC Seeks Receiver for Tanaka Investment Firm

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York City, has asked a judge to appoint a temporary receiver for Amerindo Investment Advisors, the company founded by Alberto Vilar and Thoroughbred owner Gary Tanaka.

Vilar and Tanaka were charged with fraud May 27 and are being held at a federal detention facility pending bail. Their hearing is set for June 3.

The two men are charged with using investors' funds for charitable donations or personal expenses. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York alleges Tanaka used the money to buy five racehorses, two of which each cost more than $500,000.

The SEC in its lawsuit said several investors have contacted the company asking about the safety of their investments, while others sought to end their relationship with the company, the Wall Street Journal reported June 2. "There does not appear to be an individual at Amerindo with full decision-making authority," said the SEC, which is seeking a temporary restraining order.

The Journal reported the suit includes civil-fraud charges against Vilar and Tanaka. The suit makes the same allegations as the criminal complaint. Amerindo, which hasn't been criminally charged, said it is cooperating with authorities, the newspaper reported.

Independent directors of the Amerindo mutual fund said the fund is looking for new managers, and that they had rescinded the authority of Vilar and Tanaka to direct the fund, the Journal reported.