Forex Trader Charged With Deceiving Clients, Hiding Losses

  • U.S. says Haena Park lost $19.5 million of $20 million traded
  • Park accused of scamming a Harvard classmate, family members

More than 20 investors were scammed out of at least $19.5 million in a Ponzi-like scheme orchestrated by a New York City-based money manager who struggled to hide "massive" losses in foreign-exchange trading, federal authorities said.

Haena Park, 40, of New York, was accused by federal prosecutors and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of cheating friends, family, a former Harvard classmate and a paraplegic by touting her supposedly profitable futures and foreign-currency trading strategy. Instead she lost almost all the investments, the U.S. said.

Park boasted of annual returns as high as 48.9 percent for firms she operated, first Argenta Group LLC a company which she later renamed as Phaetra Capital Management GO LLC, according to a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Thursday.

Park was released on $150,000 bond. Her lawyer, Julia Gatto, declined to comment on the charges following a court hearing.

She told investors in monthly statements that their investments were profitable to convince them to pump more money into the scheme, the U.S. said. Park actually lost about $19.5 million of the $20 million which she traded, including commissions and fees, and used money from new investors to make "Ponzi-like" payments to earlier ones, prosecutors said. 

Unsuccessful Trader

"Park was not an accomplished forex trader,” prosecutors said. “Her trading was consistently unsuccessful, and the trading results e-mailed to investors by Park were false and did not reflect the trading losses."

The cases are: U.S. v. Park, 16-cr-3503, SEC v. Park, 16-cv- 4103, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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