LOS ANGELES (AP)–The Securities and Exchange commission (SEC) filed a complaint against a Van Nuys–California man accused of running an investment scheme that defrauded Armenian immigran’s out of $19 million–federal securities regulators said.
Michael Garian–also known as Melkon Gharakhanian–was named in a civil complaint filed Friday in federal court by the SEC.
Many of the estimated 200 people who invested in Garian’s company–National Investment Enterprises–spoke little or no English and trusted Garian because he spoke Armenian–said Lisa Gok–SEC assistant regional director of enforcement.
Garian got people to invest a total of $19 million from 1997 to 2001 by promising that he could buy then-hot technology stocks at their initial public offering prices–Gok alleged.
But Garian invested only a fraction of the funds and used money from new investors to pay off the earlier ones–the SEC contends.
The agency is asking the court to fine Garian an unspecified amount and order him to return–with interest–any money obtained fraudulently.
Garian’s attorney–Robert Rosen of Los Angeles–denied the allegations. He said that Garian returned $12.7 million to his clients–who lost about $5 million total.