Aug 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged a Houston-area businessman with running a $114 million Ponzi scheme in which he promised big returns by investing some victims’ money in technology to prevent accidents caused by drowsy driving.
Frederick Alan Voight, 58, and his firm DayStar Funding LP agreed to pay civil penalties and return alleged illegal gains in sums to be set by a federal judge, the SEC said. He also agreed to asset freezes, but neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.
Voight, of Richmond, Texas, was accused of having raised at least $114.1 million from 300 investors since 2004 through fraudulent note offerings he claimed would fund research at public companies, including InterCore Inc, where he was a vice president and director.
The SEC said this included $13.8 million raised since October from at least 260 U.S. investors to fund InterCore’s installation of its Driver Alertness Detection System, or DADS, technology in “several million trucks and buses.”
It said Voight promised annual returns of up to 42 percent from the DADS offering, but that “all $13.8 million is gone.” The SEC said $22 million overall is unaccounted for.
“Mr. Voight is looking forward to having all the facts come out and putting this matter behind him as soon as possible,” Brent Baker, a lawyer for Voight, told Reuters. He also said the $22 million number will “go down substantially.”
In a Ponzi scheme, early investors are usually paid with money from later investors.
The SEC said it plans to pursue related claims against Delray Beach, Florida-based InterCore and a Montreal-based unit. The SEC complaint did not itemize how Voight used most of the funds raised.
A lawyer for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. InterCore was not accepting phone calls or emails on Monday. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)