Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said that getting in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission is like getting an “expensive speeding ticket.”
Cuban came to the defence of private equity’s “turnaround queen” Lynn Tilton. This week, the SEC charged Tilton and her firm Patriarch Partners with fraud for allegedly hiding poor performance in in three collateralized loan obligation funds since 2003.
“Even if they find [Tilton] liable, this isn’t a criminal case at this point, it’s like an expensive parking ticket or speeding ticket, you know,” Cuban told CNBC, adding, “People don’t look at the SEC and say, ‘Well, you had a problem with the SEC so there is something wrong with you.’ The SEC isn’t what it used to be.”
The case against Tilton involves collateralized loan obligation (CLO) funds known as the Zohar Funds, which made loans to distressed companies that become assets. Collectively, the Zohar Funds have $US2.5 billion in assets. The SEC claimed that many of the distressed companies in the Zohar Funds have performed poorly, and some also failed to make interest payments. The SEC claimed that Tilton left the valuations unchanged and was able to collect $US200 million in management fees.
Cuban, however, told CNBC that he sees a “red flag” in the SEC’s case.
“It’s not the type of investment that changes day to day and because it was from more than ten years ago you know, did she all of a sudden change how she valued things. She probably didn’t just make a decision she probably went to her accountants and her lawyers and she has been doing it for more than ten years. And so the fact that they took, a, five years to make a decision to press charges, and b, that’s not something that changes on a day to day basis, makes me raise a red flag.”
Patriarch Partners said in a statement that the SEC’s allegations are “ill-founded and at odds with Patriarch’s investment strategy.”