AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Federal prosecutors say two people have been charged with operating a Central Texas-based Ponzi scheme that raised nearly $18 million purportedly for investments in oil and gas interests.
But the federal Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that Robert A. Helms and Janniece S. Kaelin instead used most of the money from investors in more than a dozen states for personal and business expenses.
An SEC complaint contends the pair violated antifraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act.
Helms and Kaelin operated Austin-based Vendetta Royalty Partners. Prosecutors say Ponzi payments were made to investors to create the impression they were earning returns on a profitable investment.
The complaint says the two failed to disclose to investors pending litigation against them and misrepresented the performance of investments under their management.