Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.
According to the SEC, the brothers, who live in Dallas, created an elaborate and clandestine network of accounts and companies on the Isle of Man and in the Cayman Islands. The brothers then used these accounts and companies to trade more than $750 million of stock in four public companies on whose boards they served, not filing the disclosures required for corporate insiders, the SEC said, The Washington Post reports.
In a 78-page complaint filed in a Manhattan federal court in New York, the SEC said the Wylys held and traded tens of millions of shares in companies on whose boards they served and "defrauded the investing public" by misrepresenting their ownership and trading of those stocks.
Using this offshore system, the Wylys were able to sell stock worth more than $750 million in four public companies where they served as corporate directors. They also committed an insider trading violation at one of the companies that resulted in an unlawful gain of over $31.7 million, according to the complaint.
The Wyly brothers, with their wives, have donated almost $2.5 million to more than 200 Republican candidates and committees at the federal level over the past two decades, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, The Associated Press says.