FEB 06, 2023

Attorney General Alan Wilson announces $650,000 settlement with Centaurus Financial, Inc., Ricky Mantei, and Mantei & Associates, LLC

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today that a securities broker-dealer and its agent in Lexington have settled allegations that they violated state securities laws and will pay $650,000 in penalties and costs.

Broker-dealer Centaurus Financial, Inc., of Anaheim, California, its agent, Ricky Mantei, and his company, Mantei & Associates, LLC, of Lexington, South Carolina (collectively, the “Respondents”) entered into a Consent Order with the Securities Division (the “Division”), which settled allegations that they violated South Carolina securities laws in their sales of complex structured securities products, known as steepeners, and in their sales of certain unlisted bonds.

“It is critical that broker-dealers and their agents follow our State’s securities laws because they hold our citizens’ hard-earned savings in their hands,” said Attorney General Wilson.  “Our securities laws require that recommendations of broker-dealers and their agents be suitable for their customers, and that they have appropriate policies and procedures in place to maintain compliance with the law.” 

Without admitting or denying the Division’s findings, the Respondents agreed to cease and desist from violating South Carolina securities laws, and Centaurus agreed to pay $650,000 in penalties and costs associated with the Division’s multi-year investigation. The Respondents also accepted a censure by the Division.

Additionally, Mantei agreed to cease functioning as a supervisor or compliance officer at Centaurus. Centaurus agreed to design and implement policies and procedures to require additional review of transactions in accounts of senior investors to ensure compliance with securities laws and to maintain a dedicated compliance supervisor for its Lexington, South Carolina branch. Centaurus also agreed to retain an unaffiliated third-party compliance consultant to review Centaurus’ policies and procedures and its internal controls regarding the suitability of steepeners.

Attorney General Wilson thanks the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and its staff for their coordinated efforts and contributions to this investigation.  The SEC also announced its settlement with the Respondents today.

The Securities Division can be reached by calling 803-734-9916 or by email to [email protected]. The consent order filed for this matter as well as other orders filed by the Securities Division can be found at https://www.scag.gov/inside-the-office/legal-services-division/securities/enforcement/notices-and-orders/. Investors can submit a complaint or learn more about the Securities Division by visiting the Attorney General’s Office website at scag.gov.

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