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SEC charging cannabis company with siphoning off millions

Posted On: Mar. 17, 2023 12:35 PM CST


The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday it is charging a cannabis cultivation and distribution company, its CEO and others with participating in a long-running scheme in which they raised more than $30 million from more than 100 investors around the country and siphoned off millions of those funds to enrich themselves.

The complaint, Securities and Exchange Commission v. American Patriot Brands Inc., et al., which was filed in U.S. District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said  that Newport Beach, California-based American Brands Inc. produced only a small amount of sellable cannabis a year, yet promoted itself as one of the largest cannabis farms in the country and provided “wildly inflated financial information to support extremely high revenue projections.”

It said APB’s officers have siphoned off millions in investor funds to a company partly owned by CEO Robert Y. Lee and another company, and have also used investment proceeds to enrich themselves.

The complaint says APB is still actively marketing securities to prospective investors “with the same false and misleading claims.”

The SEC is charging defendants with violations of federal securities law and unjust enrichment.

The company could not be reached for comment.