NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters Legal) - A Greenberg Traurig partner who was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission this week of manipulating evidence was fired by the firm on Friday, a firm spokesperson said.
The SEC alleged that the lawyer, David Tamman, altered documents that had been distributed to potential investors in a securities offering by one of his clients.
"David Tamman was terminated by the firm," a Greenberg Traurig spokesperson said in an email to Reuters Legal. "The allegations in the SEC complaint, which [Tamman] failed to disclose to us, alleged conduct and actions which took place at a former firm and of which we were not aware."
Tamman, who worked in the firm's Los Angeles office, did not respond to an email or voicemail message seeking his comment.
The SEC alleges that Tamman altered documents during the course of a 2009 agency investigation into his client, NewPoint Securities LLC, a Beverly Hills, California-based investment firm. At the time, Tamman was a partner at Nixon Peabody.
The SEC's investigation looked at whether NewPoint's offering documents, which targeted the Los Angeles Iranian-American community, defrauded investors by stating that the funds raised would be used primarily for real-estate-related investments. According to the SEC, most of the money was actually used by NewPoint principal John Farahi and his wife to construct a multi-million dollar home and engage in risky futures trading.
In July 2009, Tamman was asked to produce copies of the original offering documents with their metadata -- coding that would show when they were created, the SEC said. Instead, the SEC alleges, Tamman asked his firm's IT department to strip the metadata. The SEC claims that Tamman added language to the original documents to make it appear that investors had been informed that much of the money raised by NewPoint would be loaned to Farahi.
FIRED FROM NIXON PEABODY
These documents were then turned over to the SEC's examination and enforcement staff, although Tamman was aware that the added language was not in the original documents provided to investors, the SEC alleges.
Tamman, who was hired by Nixon Peabody in February 2007, was fired when the firm learned of the charges in October 2009, firm spokesperson Allison McClain told Reuters Legal.
The SEC's Office of the General Counsel brought the administrative proceedings against Tamman under Section 4C of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 102(e) of the SEC's Rules of Practice. Both provisions allow the SEC to bar someone from appearing before the commission for unethical or improper professional conduct.
The SEC filing also alleges that Tamman violated a California Rule of Professional Conduct that prohibits attorneys from suppressing evidence. The California Business and Professions Code allows disbarment for acts involving "moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption."
The SEC filed a civil suit against NewPoint and Farahi in Los Angeles federal court in January 2010. That case is on hold, pending the resolution of related criminal proceedings brought by the federal government.
The administrative proceeding is In the Matter of David M. Tamman, No. 3-14207.
The SEC's case against NewPoint and Farahi is SEC v. NewPoint Financial Services Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 2:10-cv-124.
(Reporting by Terry Baynes of Reuters Legal)