Despite facing up to $15million in fines and a ban from the securities industry, an investment advisor has decided not to turn up for her trial hearing.
Dawn Bennett, of Bennett Group Financial Services, has been accused of exaggerating the assets of her company by as much as $1.5billion. However, she is now confronting the SEC over its use of administrative judges.
Bennett is alleged to have made the hyperbolized claims during a radio show, as well as to the journal Barron’s which once listed her among its top five female advisors. The SEC has charged her with the idea that many of the investors that moved to her company as a result of her claims ultimately lost millions.
Bennett originally moved to stop the case, claiming that it was unconstitutional. However, after failing with that appeal she has now chosen to miss the start of her in-house trial with her lawyer Greg Morvillo claiming that she prefers to challenge the process instead of participating in it.
The SEC is under fire for using administrative judges who handle hundreds of cases for the regulator every year. The use of these judges dates back to the Depression and is seen as a way to ease the caseload, the regulator claims. However, detractors believe that defendants are not necessarily receiving fair hearings because judges are being selected via a hiring process rather than via appointment from commissioners. This is seen as illegal because it goes against the constitution.
In a recent case, a federal judge halted the trail of Barbara Duka, a former S&P executive; while Lynn Tilton saw in-house proceedings stopped when she appealed about the constitutionality of her trial.