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SLO investment advisor charged with fraud 

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged SLO-based investment firm WealthWise and its leader for steering clients toward a hedge fund in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.

The charges filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Sept. 24 allege WealthWise Principal Jeffrey A. Forrest was given more than $350,000 from Salt Lake City-based Thompson Consulting, Inc. after he convinced more than 60 WealthWise clients to invest in the Apex Equity Options hedge fund. Forrest received a portion of the collected fees when he steered clients toward the fund, but he failed to disclose the agreement, according to the SEC.

In August 2007, Apex collapsed and WealthWise clients lost nearly all of the $40 million Forrest directed to Apex, the SEC said in the federal court file.

Forrest did not return a call for comment before press time.

Specifically, Forrest and WealthWise were charged with violating antifraud provisions of three securities acts from the 1930s and ’40s. If the court finds in favor of the SEC, WealthWise would have to surrender the Thomas Consulting fees and may face additional fines and penalties.

Thomas Consulting is also facing an SEC charge, which alleges the company blew about $60 million on high-risk investments while telling clients their money was in a hedge fund.

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