Ever­est Wealth Man­age­ment set­tle­ment with state not fi­nal

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Sarah Gantz sarah.gantz@balt­sun.com twitter.com/sarah­gantz

Ever­est Wealth Man­age­ment Inc. and the Maryland In­sur­ance Ad­min­is­tra­tion are dis­cussing a set­tle­ment that could keep the em­bat­tled Tow­son firm in busi­ness.

The in­sur­ance ad­min­is­tra­tion in De­cem­ber is­sued an or­der against Ever­est that would re­voke the li­cense of owner Philip Rousseaux and fine him and the com­pany $62,400. Any set­tle­ment is not fi­nal un­til the in­sur­ance ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sues a new pub­lic or­der.

Rousseaux and his lawyer, Alex J. Brown, de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing a gag or­der.

Maryland In­sur­ance Com­mis­sioner Al Red­mer Jr. also de­clined to com­ment.

The in­sur­ance ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­posed the penal­ties fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the agency that found Ever­est had used mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion in its in­fomer­cials that tout the firm as “The Money Guys” and blurred the line be­tween Ever­est Wealth Man­age­ment, an in­sur­ance com­pany, and its re­lated advi- sory services.

As stan­dard pro­ce­dure for such or­ders, the com­pany is al­lowed to re­quest a hear­ing be­fore an as­so­ci­ate com­mis­sioner for hear­ings. Open­ing ar­gu­ments in that hear­ing took place Oct. 3. It was un­clear whether the pro­ceed­ings had been can­celed be­cause of the pos­si­ble set­tle­ment or were on hold.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, Ever­est de­nied wrong­do­ing and ar­gued that the penal­ties levied against the com­pany are un­fairly harsh.

Ever­est also faces po­ten­tial penal­ties re­lated to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the se­cu­ri­ties di­vi­sion of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian Frosh’s of­fice. In June 2015, Frosh ac­cused Ever­est of fraud­u­lently mis­rep­re­sent­ing the risks of its in­vest­ment strat­egy.

In that case, Ever­est is await­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion on an ad­min­is­tra­tive judge’s rec­om­men­da­tion to per­ma­nently bar Ever­est Wealth Man­age­ment from op­er­at­ing as an ad­vi­sory com­pany, re­voke Rousseaux’s li­cense and re­quire him to pay a $250,000 fine.

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