A former advisor accused of defrauding investors out of millions of dollars has agreed to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Advisor reports.
The SEC filed lawsuits against the advisor, Anthony Cottone of Delray Beach, Florida and Botanica Group Holdings, which he operated through his Retirement Planning Institute.
According to a complaint filed in federal court in West Palm Beach, Cottone ran the alleged scheme for four months during 2017. The SEC said he touted his credentials as a certified financial planner in order to lure people to invest in the sale of preferred interest in a fund he operated. Cottone promised his investors 12% annual interest but instead, according to the SEC, he used their money to pay for his personal bills and lifestyle, and to fund various business ventures. In all, Cottone was charged with defrauding 11 investors out of $2.7 million.
Cottone agreed last week to a settlement in which he will repay his ill-gotten gains and promise not to violate securities law in the future. He is also barred from publicly denying the allegations.
The SEC charged Cottone with violating Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Sections 10(b) and 15(a)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 206(1), 206(2), and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder,
Cottone was previously barred by FINRA in 2018 for failing to answer requests for information from investigators regarding investor complaints. In 2020, his certified financial planner certification was revoked by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
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