Investment Advisor who Stole Millions in Ponzi Scheme and Lied to SEC Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and False Statement
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Law Enforcement uncovers Ponzi Scheme following Civil Penalties imposed by SEC
A long-time Bellevue investment advisor pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to wire fraud and making false statements, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. CHRIS YOUNG YOO, 44, admitted he raised millions of dollars in investments by promising to invest his clients’ money in funds he managed. However, YOO admitted, he never actually invested the money of certain clients, and instead used their money to pay his own living and business expenses, resulting in a loss of over $3.6 million to those clients. YOO also admitted to providing false information to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulators in connection with an SEC investigation. When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on June 22, 2017, both the prosecution and defense will recommend an 80-month prison term.
According to records filed in the case, between 2006 and 2015, YOO was the majority owner and operator of Summit Asset Strategies, a Bellevue investment company. The company operated two funds that invested primarily in South Korea. After opening Summit, YOO realized that the management fees he was permitted to charge investors would not support his company or lifestyle, so he began funneling some investors’ money into a separate bank account, rather than into the Summit investment funds as promised. YOO misused the investments of 17 investors in this manner.
In 2014, YOO was required to disclose all of his bank accounts to the SEC as part of an SEC investigation into YOO’s management of two investment funds. YOO submitted misleading documents to the SEC to conceal the bank account he was using to commit his fraud. YOO falsely claimed the account belonged to a relative and that payments to clients from that account were loan payments. In 2015, YOO reached a settlement with the SEC in which he was ordered to pay restitution and forbidden from committing further fraud. Even after this settlement, YOO continued to fraudulently solicit investments and use the funds for his own purposes. In all, some 17 investors were defrauded of $3,660,216.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson.
Updated March 20, 2017
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud