Steven Henning, a former partner of Morison KSi member firm Marks Paneth has been charged with wire fraud in the US.
The alleged fraud related to a scheme in which Henning falsely claimed to have entered into multi-million dollar intellectual property deals, eventually defrauding investors out of $2m.
Henning established his own firm, OpportunIP, which told victims it was a company specialising in assisting other entities in taking intellectual property to the market.
Henning allegedly induced victims to invest by providing them with false documents showing OpportunIP’s involvement in multi-million dollar transactions that would earn millions of dollars in future profits.
In 2008, while Henning was working for Marks Paneth, he founded the firm which would later become OpportunIP. The United States Department of Justice said that other members of Marks Paneth owned interests in OpportunIP.
Henning, who was also previously professor of accounting at a university in Texas, convinced one of his former students (only referred to as Victim 1) to invest in the company. Victim 1 later brought in a relative (Victim 2) into the investment scheme.
Both Victim 1 and 2 and another investor (Victim 3) were in discussion with Henning to establish a new company which would transfer control from the partners who were at the time in charge, to the Victims.
The Victims’ families agreed that they would fund an additional loan to the new Henning venture.
Following this, on October 9 2015, Victim 1 and Victim 2 transferred $1m to an account in the name of an entity that was set up to be the holding branch of the new OpportunIP. Thereafter, nearly all of the $1m was transferred to accounts controlled by Henning.
At the time of Henning’s fraud, Mark Paneth was a member firm of Morison International as it was prior to the merger with KS International.
Henning was arrested in Florida on 8 October and appeared before a magistrate judge on 9 October. If found guilty, the charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offence.
Marks Paneth declined to comment on the arrest of Henning.