SEC Files Fraud Charges Against Charles Winn LLC and Senior Managers for Alleged $8.5 Million Wine Investment Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud allegations against Charles Winn LLC and a number of individuals affiliated with the company. Aaron David Scott Britten and Ohran Stewart, Case Alexander, a sales representative and Charles Winn’s record managing member Charlie Jake Smith are accused of raising more than $8.5 million by making fraudulent and unregistered investments in fine wines. According to the SEC, at least 121 investors were affected, including many elderly people.

Charles Winn, via its sales representatives, marketing materials and other means, according to SEC’s complaint promised investors it would buy wine of investment grade on their behalf and sell them at profit. The proceeds from the sale were then shared with investors. Scott-Britten, Stewart and their sales representatives provided scripts to the sales representatives who falsely assured investors of the use of funds for wine purchase and storage. Also, they claimed that Charles Winn’s profits would be between 10% and 45%. The SEC claims that these statements are false.

According to the complaint, Charles Winn and Scott-Britten spent investor funds on non-wine related expenses. They included payments made to individuals, upfront sales commissions, payments for back-office employees, as well as payments to Scott Britten and Stewart, family members and affiliated companies. The SEC alleges that Scott-Britten, Stewart and Alexander and Smith were involved in the fraud scheme.

In its complaint, the SEC alleges that various sections of Securities Act of 1933 as well as Securities Exchange Act of 1964 were violated. It is seeking injunctive and civil relief as well as disgorgement of gains ill-gotten with prejudgment and interest. Alyssa Qalls will lead the litigation. The SEC’s Chicago Regional Office conducted the investigation. The SEC thanks several state regulatory bodies for their assistance in this case.

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SEC: What You Need to Know

The Securities and Exchange Commission is an American regulatory agency that protects investors, promotes fair and efficient markets and helps capital formation. SEC was founded in 1934 and enforces federal security laws. They also regulate the securities industry which includes stock exchanges. broker-dealers. investment advisors. and mutual funds. The SEC is responsible for overseeing disclosures by corporations, preventing market manipulation and fraud, ensuring compliance to securities laws, and offering educational resources to investors. SEC is a key player in the U.S. Financial Markets, through its rulemaking, enforcement actions and investor protection programs.

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