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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Financial adviser to pay $780K to SEC

BY Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Honolulu financial adviser who allegedly defrauded senior citizens has agreed to pay a $780,000 fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mark K. Teruya and his Senior Resources of Hawaii Inc. agreed to the final judgment in U.S. District Court after being sued by the SEC in 2007 to stop his activities.

The SEC in September 2007 filed for an injunction against Teruya and Senior Resources, which did business as USA Wealth Resources, a firm that specialized in financial planning for senior citizens.

The SEC worked with state regulators to stop Teruya's financial adviser activities, which they said had resulted in him making $2 million in commissions by defrauding senior citizens.

In 2007, the state alleged Teruya misled clients, getting them to sign blank forms that he later used to sell their stocks and bonds without their knowledge. He then allegedly rolled the proceeds into equity-indexed annuities to collect commissions.

Teruya and the SEC's agreement said he was accepting the judgment without admitting or denying allegations and that he was waiving his right to appeal.

Teruya continues to face an action brought against him by Hawaii Securities Commissioner Tung Chan that seeks to permanently revoke his securities sales licenses in the state.

Chan said the state is also asking that Teruya return clients to the financial position they were in prior to his actions. She said the state is also seeking penalties against him.

State Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt also took action to revoke Teruya's state insurance license. It did so after learning Teruya allegedly accessed an 82-year-old client's account without permission and transferred more than $100,000 into an annuity.

"He forged the signature of this gentleman on some paperwork," said Schmidt, explaining the money was invested in an annuity that carried a stiff penalty for withdrawal.

He said the client had planned on using the funds to build an orphanage in the Philippines.

"We are very concerned about this kind of activity, particularly in dealing with senior citizens," Schmidt said.

The Insurance Division suspended Teruya's insurance license in September 2008 and then revoked it in August 2009.