Hedge fund manager faces fraud charges
Where's Kirk Wright? And more important, where's the $180 million of investors' money his funds held?
By Amanda Cantrell, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - An Atlanta hedge fund manager under suspicion of defrauding a group of investors that included several NFL players now faces criminal charges in connection with the collapse of funds that investors believed held up to $180 million.

Kirk Wright, 35, is charged with mail fraud related to the collapse of hedge funds he controlled through his firm, International Management Associates, federal officials said yesterday. Wright, who is currently on the lam, is accused of sending phony return statements to investors that showed balances that were more than 1,000 times more than the actual value of the firm's accounts, according to the government's complaint.

When investors expressed concerns about the value of their investments in September 2005, Wright allegedly showed them statements that appeared to come from brokerage firm Ameritrade. The statements appeared to show that IMA had over $150 million invested. In actuality, IMA's accounts with Ameritrade totaled only $150,000, according to the complaint.

If convicted, Wright faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

"Mr. Wright is aware that he is a fugitive and he is going to be arrested," said U.S. attorney David Nahmias in a statement. "The best and safest course for all parties at this point would be for Mr. Wright to turn himself in to the FBI immediately.

Wright also faces civil charges in the case. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Wright, IMA and the IMA-controlled hedge funds, accusing Wright of raising as much as $185 million from up to 500 investors through a fraudulent investment scheme and falsifying the funds' returns.


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