July 19–A former executive at a Plano oil company has reached a partial settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on charges that he and associates defrauded investors out of $11.7 million, some of which was spent on alcohol, strip club visits and cocaine, according to the SEC.
William Fort, former president of AmeraTex Energy, accepted a settlement with the SEC Wednesday in federal court. Fort will pay back his “ill gotten gains,” with interest and a to-be-determined civil penalty, according to court documents.
AmeraTex, Lewis Oil Corp. and Lewis Oil Company raised the $11.7 million from more than 150 investors for interests in drilling in Kentucky, according to the SEC’s complaint. The companies misled investors on use of their proceeds, financial statements, locations and production of wells and other topics, the SEC alleged.
Fort was not licensed to sell securities and worked with the owner of the three companies, Thomas Lewis, to operate the scheme, the SEC said.
This included hiring internet search suppression services to hide investor and former employee complaints online, the SEC said. Fort was AmeraTex’s vice president and director of operations from November 2008 to July 2013 and president from July 2013 to October 2014.
The initial complaint stated that the companies targeted individuals with no investment experience and little understanding of the oil and gas industry.
The SEC declined to comment on the case.
Fort’s lawyer did not immediately return requests for comment.
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