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Montana securities commissioner reaches $5.7M settlement in Missoula investment fraud case

Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale.

Montana Securities Commissioner Matt Rosendale on Monday said his office has reached a $5.7 million settlement with FSC Securities Corp., resolving the illegal activities of a former corporate employee based in Missoula.

Rosendale, a Republican seeking to unseat Sen. Jon Tester in this year’s U.S. Senate race, lauded the company’s cooperation in resolving the matter.

“After Missoulians were harmed by FSC’s former employee, the company has taken the steps necessary to remedy the situation as best as possible,” Rosendale said. “I appreciate FSC’s cooperation, and I am very happy to report that we reached a resolution to get Montanans their money back and protect future investors.”

In 2015, FSC began receiving complaints from the clients of Barry Hartman – who was registered with FCS from 2002 to 2015 – regarding investments in Invizeon. The Missoula-based company was listed as a software business that develops platforms to manage information from sensing and detection technology.

According to the complainants, Hartman peddled illegal investments without the knowledge of FSC, leaving his clients unable to access their investment proceeds. Rosendale described Hartman as a beneficial owner and director of Invizeon.

Invizeon closed in 2015 and investors lost their entire investment as a result, Rosendale said. Hartman was later terminated by FSC for violating “firm policies, to include (his) participation in an undisclosed outside business activity and an undisclosed private securities transaction.”

Rosendale said he identified 12 Hartman clients who had purchased Invizeon, and 26 clients who held bad investments based on their financial objectives, age and needs. Most of those clients live in the Missoula area, Rosendale said.

In trading vernacular, Hartman engaged in “selling away,” a term used when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies that aren’t preapproved by the broker’s affiliated firm.

Under the terms of the deal reached between FSC and Rosendale’s office, FSC will pay more than $1.3 million in restitution, including $1.1 million in principal and more than $230,000 in interest to FSC clients who invested in Invizeon.

The company will also offer more than $1.4 million in rescission, including nearly $1.2 million in principal and $130,000 in interest to FSC clients who purchased unsuitable, illiquid investments

Among other things, Rosendale said, the company will also reimburse the state’s investigative expenses.