The threads of greed and deception are often interwoven in complex patterns within the tapestry of financial crime. What happens when the threads unravel? What happens if the person weaving this deceptive tapestry gets caught up in their own lies? Cooper J. Morgenthau was the former Chief Financial Officer of African Gold Acquisition Corp. answers these rhetorical queries with a cautionary tale.
Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has successfully obtained a judgment against Morgenthau. He was convicted of a scheme in which he stole more than five million dollars from his company and its investors. The SEC complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York alleged that Morgenthau used the funds of the company as his own piggy bank. He used the money for personal expenses, and traded in crypto assets and securities.
Imagine a magician removing a rabbit from a hat. You can replace Morgenthau as the magician and the rabbit with African Gold & Strategic Metals Acquisition Corp. Morgenthau also incorporated two other Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), I and II. Morgenthau’s trick however was far from magic. It was more of a calculated deception. He falsified the bank statements to give them to African Gold’s accountants and auditor.
What happens after the smoke clears and the mirrors have been shattered? Morgenthau received a court order to pay more than $5,000,000, was banned from being an officer or director in a publicly-traded company and sentenced to a 36-month jail term. Morgenthau’s fall is similar to that of Icarus, a mythical figure from Greek mythology who flew too near the sun. Morgenthau, like Icarus reached heights that he couldn’t sustain. His ambition ultimately led to his fall.
The story about Morgenthau should serve as a warning that easy money can lure even the most seasoned of professionals into a world of deceit. As the SEC action against Morgenthau demonstrates, those who weave a web of financial lies will ultimately find themselves trapped in their own web.
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Morgenthau’s story serves as a warning for others who may be tempted by his example. It is a warning to others who might be tempted to follow in his footsteps. And those who try to find them may find themselves facing the same fate as Morgenthau – a fall from grace, a hefty financial penalty, and a long prison sentence.
You can find more information in Litigation release No. 25605. Morgenthau’s story is a reminder of the high cost of dishonesty, but the value of integrity.