The SEC announced on Wednesday that it concluded a securities fraud investigation into the Amish Helping Fund, a nonprofit that funds mortgages for Amish families. According to the SEC’s statement, AHF participated in the cooperation initiative and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.
AHF, which is based in Millersburg, Ohio, offers financial relief to young Amish families in the state and has raised $125 million in capital by offering investment contracts to thousands of investors in the Amish community. The SEC began investigating AHF in June 2010. AHF’s treasurer was Monroe Beachy, the “Amish Bernie Madoff”, who was recently sentenced to six and a half years in prison for bilking thousands of members of the Amish community out of an estimated $16.8 million.
The SEC’s claims against AHF were far less serious. The SEC alleged that AHF’s offering memorandum, drafted in 1995, hadn’t been updated in 15 years and therefore contained material misrepresentations about the fund and the securities it offers. The SEC said it found no evidence that AHF investors were harmed by the alleged misrepresentations.
The fund, which is represented by Baker & Hostetler, immediately cooperated with the SEC. As part of Wednesday’s deal, it has now agreed to update its offering memorandum, offer all existing investors the right of rescission, and retain an independent certified public accountant to review its books. Under the terms of the DPA, the SEC has agreed not to file an enforcement action against AHF if it abides the agreement.
“The fund appreciates the SEC’s exercising its discretion to resolve this matter by [DPA] rather than bringing a formal enforcement action,” said AHF’s lawyer, Baker Hostetler partner John Carney, in a statement.
A mid-year report by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher issued last week found that, since the SEC launched its Cooperation Initiative, the program had resulted in just three non-prosecution agreements and one DPA. The Department of Justice, on the other hand, has filed 21 DPA/NPA agreements in the last seven months alone.