GPB Capital Compliance Officer and Former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) examiner Michael Cohn has pled guilty to misdemeanor theft of government property after joining GBP Capital Holdings in late 2018.
The allegations against Cohn is that of unauthorized computer access to obtain confidential information was then passed to a firm he was seeking employment at. Cohn’s legal team is arguing that the information obtained was simply used to prepare for an interview with his new employer rather than felonious purposes. The charges of obstruction of justice, unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, and unauthorized access to a computer are all felonies, and having originally denied the accusations, Cohn has now opted for a misdemeanor plea which would see his potential jail time reduced from up to 20 years a maximum of one year in prison.
Cohn’s role within the SEC’s Enforcement Division gave him access to information regarding the ongoing investigation into securities law violations. The information passed on by Cohn was related directly to an investigation into his new employer and was something that he was not authorized to view as part of his role. The accusation is that he then used this information to leverage his new $400,000 position with GBP as their Chief Compliance Officer. Cohn was charged a month later and no longer holds this position.
GBP Capital Holdings are based in New York and has acquired private companies across a range of industries, raising more than $1.8 billion in investor equity. It must be noted that the film is no stronger to controversy with multiple allegations across several states currently under investigation, from defrauding investors to operating a Ponzi Scheme. Most recently they have been found to have issued potential investors in Massachusetts with promotional marketing material that contained inaccuracies and omissions that could have induced investors to part with cash under false pretenses. In March 2019 the Federal Bureau of Investigation made an unannounced visit to the premises of GPB with the intention of collection materials related to the prosecution of Cohn, with so many ongoing investigations it was believed by GPB at the time that this was simply a continuation of investigations into an unrelated matter.
To add insult to injury, the firm has now missed multiple deadlines to submit its audited financial accounts, possibly due to the resignation of members of the internal audit committee in November 2019. GBP has since given a public statement confirming that terminated Cohn’s employment upon hearing of the situation and that during his less than one-year tenure at the company they had no knowledge of or involvement in any wrongdoing. With multiple subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on top of the accusations against Cohn, there has been serious and possibly irreparable damage done to the integrity of the film.