SEC Probing Bay Area Real Estate Company, Lawyer Says
The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into a Marin real estate company, an attorney connected to the matter confirmed Tuesday.
The probe is focusing on Novato, California-based real estate company Professional Financial Investors following owner Kenneth J. Casey's recent death, according to Eric Sternberger, a partner at Ragghianti Freitas, who was hired to advise on transfer of ownership.
The news was first reported by Law.com. Investigators opened up a non-public, fact-finding inquiry into Casey and his two companies on May 28, Sternberger said, adding that he was hired to represent the companies by Casey's ex-wife.
"Understandably, the news of this inquiry has been devastating to investors and their families; many of which rely on the income from their investments for their basic necessities," the law firm said in a statement. "These investors are in the forefront of our minds and their well-being is our primary focus."
The SEC declined to comment. PFI declined to comment to Bisnow, deferring instead to Sternberger.
In the letter, which Sternberger reportedly sent to PFI noteholders and other investors in a PFI fund company, he said the audit elicited "legitimate questions involving the structure and investment history of Mr. Casey’s companies."
In response, the companies asked the SEC to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into Kenneth J. Casey and his companies’ three decades of real estate investments, Sternberger reportedly said in his letter.
"Everyone deserves answers on their investments, but to be able to give meaningful and complete answers it requires the analysis of a large and complex amount of data, which we are working through with the SEC," the law firm statement said. "To find the truth, we are and will continue to cooperate fully with the inquiry to ensure the timely completion of their work on behalf of the investors."
A May 15 obituary in the Marin Independent Journal reported Casey's death was unexpected but did not specify a cause.
PFI has 900 apartment units under management and 600K SF of warehouse space between Marin and Sonoma counties, according to Law.com, which linked to a company website that now appears to be down.