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International Management Associates LLC - Fraudulent/inept fund

2006-02

Count of distinct funds: 1
Capital base: $185 million
Loss: $185 million

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stories: fundstreet.org, wsj.com, toomre.com

Kirk Wright wanted very badly to be a wealthy and successful hedge fund manager, catering to the niche of wealthly black Atlantans and famous athletes. Actually working to run the fund, however, was not on his agenda. He thus proceeded to use his charisma to defraud what is said to be more than 500 investors (including a number of high-profile athletes) out of some $185 million. In February 2007, Wright (who is now apparently in jail) was hit with a $20 million fine by the SEC, to help recover some of what was pilfered. However, much more money has not been found or was poured into various luxury expenditures of Wright's, or ill-conceived business ventures. The following passage (found at the first story above) gives some of an idea:

Wright left behind real estate worth potentially millions of dollars, investments of about $6 million in development projects, and at least five cars, including a Jaguar, Bentley and Aston Martin, a court record shows.

But a bankruptcy petition filed on behalf of Wright's company also lists debts of more than $100 million.

More, from the AJC article (March, 2006) posted at the same link:

Now those dollars have disappeared—temporarily, at least—along with as much as $185 million belonging to more than 500 other investors with IMA.

A lawsuit filed last month by seven current or former National Football League players, who claimed Wright rebuffed their attempts to withdraw funds, provoked a storm of legal action against him and his fund. About two dozen other investors are suing, along with the SEC, which is alleging five counts of fraud.

On Thursday, the court-appointed receiver in that case filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for IMA.The filing in federal court in Atlanta indicates there could be more than $100 million in debts owed to as many as 999 creditors. It lists assets as "to be determined."

Also to be determined is Wright's whereabouts. He went underground when a Fulton County judge ordered a lockdown of IMA offices and a freeze on assets.

Wright's lawyer has not been available for interviews, requested several times. Attempts to reach Wright over the past month have been unsuccessful.

It still appears to be unclear how much of the money Wright actually lost "innocently" through bad investing, versus illegitimately pillaging from the fund or pouring into his various business boondoggles.

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Important: This fund is on our list of hedge funds that have "imploded" (see also ailing lenders). However, please note that "imploded" is a somewhat subjective. The "imploded" list contains hedge funds (or other unregulated and autonomous speculative investment funds) which have gone through some sort of permanent adverse change. This is a somewhat subjective call, and does not necessarily mean total shutdown or bankruptcy. It can also mean steep and rapid mark-downs in net asset value; or abnormal "bail-out" by corporate parents or peers in order to avoid write-downs and provide liquidity. The funds are of any type and sector.