The private-equity industry largely escaped regulatory scrutiny prior to the financial crisis, but no more after Dodd-Frank mandated greater oversight of asset managers. According to a Bloomberg, an SEC review finds more than half of P-E firms inflate fees and expenses charged to portfolio companies, raising the prospect of a wave of sanctions from the agency.
Last month, the SEC filed a case against Clean Energy Capital and founder Scott Brittenham, accusing them of misusing more than $3M in funds. The money, says the SEC, should have gone to investors. Clean Energy denies the accusation.
“The industry is going to be forced into change because, frankly, when your big investors are public plans and other money that’s run by fiduciaries, you can’t afford as a business matter to be deemed to be engaging in fraud,” says attorney Barry Barbash. “Fraud doesn’t sell very well.”