SEC Charges Las Vegas Real Estate CEO with Defrauding Investors

August 2, 2021/US SEC

Image Credit: US SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced securities fraud charges against recidivist Michael Shustek, the CEO of several Las Vegas real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), and his wholly owned investment advisory firm, Vestin Mortgage LLC.

The complaint alleges that since at least 2012, Shustek fraudulently enriched himself and one of the REITs he controlled, The Parking REIT, at the expense of two publicly traded REITs that he earlier had founded, Vestin Realty Mortgage I (“VRTA”) and Vestin Realty Mortgage II (“VRTB”). According to the complaint, Shustek drained $29 million from VRTA and VRTB in order to funnel the money into The Parking REIT and later directed VRTA and VRTB to enter into a series of money-losing transactions in which the same six buildings were repeatedly re-sold, all to benefit himself and The Parking REIT. The complaint also alleges that Shustek deceived the boards of directors of VRTA and VRTB-and violated his fiduciary duties to those companies-in two separate securities transactions to get the companies to pay him almost $10 million. Finally, the complaint alleges that Shustek repeatedly misled investors by causing VRTA and VRTB to make false and misleading statements in their public filings, which hid his self-dealing.

The SEC’s complaint, which was filed in the District of Nevada, charges Shustek and Vestin Mortgage with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Sections 206(1) and (2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and Shustek with aiding and abetting violations of Section 13(a) & Rules 13a-13 and 12b-20 of the Exchange Act. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, civil penalties, and an officer and director bar and penny stock bar against Shustek.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Ruth Hawley and supervised by Jeremy Pendrey and Monique C. Winkler, and the litigation will be conducted by Ms. Hawley, Marc Katz, and David Zhou, and supervised by Susan LaMarca, all of the San Francisco Regional Office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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