On September 18, 2018, the SEC initiated a civil action (the “Complaint”) against Defendants World Tree Financial, LLC (“World Tree”), Wesley Kyle Perkins (“Perkins”), and Priscilla Gilmore Perkins (“Gilmore”). The Complaint alleges that Perkins and Gilmore, husband and wife owners of World Tree, engaged in a purported “cherry-picking” scheme. Specifically, the SEC has alleged that World Tree would routinely allocate winning trades to themselves or favored clients at the conclusion of the trading day, to the detriment of disfavored clients who received the losing trades. As alleged in the Complaint, this practice, referred to in the securities industry as “cherry-picking”, amounts to an impermissible allocation of trades in violation of various securities laws, including Sections 209(d), 209(e)(1), and 214 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”).
World Tree was co-founded in 2009 by Perkins and Gilmore and is structured as a Louisiana corporation with its principal place of business in Lafayette, LA. Until June 15, 2012, World Tree was registered with the SEC as a registered investment advisor (“RIA”), at which time it withdrew its registration. Currently, Word Tree remains registered in the State of Louisiana as an investment advisor.
As alleged by the SEC, World Tree manages all of its clients’ assets on a discretionary basis, meaning that it has authorization to trade securities on behalf of its clients. According to the Complaint, from December 2009 – October 2015, World Tree conducted all of its trades through an omnibus account at a third-party registered broker-dealer. As alleged in the Complaint: “In general, an omnibus trading account allows an investment advisor to buy and sell securities on behalf of multiple clients simultaneously, without identifying to the broker in advance the specific accounts for which a trade is intended.”