The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Knight Nguyen Investments (KNI) and three individuals with obtaining funds from retail investments in five fraudulent securities offerings.
Knight Nguyen was based in Katy, Texas. Majority owner Chris Knight Lopez was also charged, along with his brother Jayson (based in Florida) and Forrest Jones. Chris Lopez formed KNI in 2015, even though he had no experience as a securities professional. Jones was hired in February 2017.
Between March 2016 and September 2018, the SEC alleges that Chris Lopez and Jones raised $3.7 million from approximately 70 clients. They largely targeted older and unsophisticated individuals who were trying to preserve or grow their retirement savings. Lopez and Jones promised that they would invest in safe and secure investments. Instead they invested the funds in five high-risk investments. Four of them were associated with or controlled by the Lopez brothers. Of course, this was not disclosed to the clients.
The SEC alleges that Chris Lopez and Jones fabricated documents and bank statements to purportedly show that some of the investments had millions of dollars in assets or cash. The SEC also alleges that they registered documents with the SEC that overstated the amount of regulatory assets under management.
Liberian gold and diamonds
A lawsuit filed in Oregon in 2016 appears to have triggered the SEC’s interest. A Portland doctor invested $2.4 million in a scheme to import gold and diamonds from a mine in Liberia. The doctor never got his gold and he lost his money. He sued his investment advisor, based in Salem and also KNI. KNI apparently sold the promissory notes issued by the purported mine. In the current complaint, the SEC states that KNI stole that money.
Separate investigation into Jones
In June 2020, the SEC opened a separate investigation against Forrest Jones. A customer claimed damages of $350,000, alleging that Jones made unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentations. At the time, in 2018, Jones worked at Fortune Financial Services in Montgomery. The investigation remains open.